THE SCHOOL OF THE A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THREE REMARKABLE MEM WILLIAM ERNEST LINNET WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY THE Z. SMITH REYNOLDS LIBRARY _ rssss/ff CALL NO. NOT TO IBCULAT Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2013 http://archive.org/details/schoolofprophets1930linn THE SCHOOL OF THE PROPHETS JC^SO A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THREE REMARKABLE MEN KJ^OJ BY WILLIAM ERNESTJJKTNET ' PRESS OF OXFORD ORPHANAGE OXFORD, NORTH CAROLINA CONTENTS Page Introduction 7 I The Preacher of the Old School 9 II The Boyhood of J. P. Gwaltney 21 III An Old Time Conversion 29 IV Off to the War 34 V Called of God 43 VI J. P. Gwaltney, The Preacher 48 VII Uncle Jay, The Aged 59 VIII Leroy Parks Gwaltney 71 IX His Early Ministry 85 X L. P. Gwaltney — Preacher 91 XI As I Remember 105 XII Daniel Wilson Poole 117 XIII Some Reflections of a Neighbor 126 XIV The School of The Prophets 139 XV A Contribution to Spiritual Christianity 149 XVI The Great Meeting Just Ahead 160 WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY William Ernest Linney INTRODUCTION The comparatively small patch of land lying be- tween the Brushy Mountains and the Catawba River, officially designated Alexander County, North Caro- lina, and known far and wide as "Little Aleck", has probably produced a larger number of eminent men and women than any other plot of ground of the same size and population on the North American Contin- ent. They have gone out into all parts of the world and into almost every walk of life, each with a marked degree of success and an enviable record of service. It was the Hon. Romulus Z. Linney, I believe, who once said that the territory lying around the foot of the Rocky Face Mountain for five or six miles in each direction had given to the world a larger number of useful citizens than any other rural section of the same size on the face of the earth. Alexander County has long been noted for her large number of native preachers. Among them are found the names of Gwaltney, Poole, Bumgarner, Steele, Crouch, Davis, Thomas, York, Rowe, Bagwell, Steven- son, Teague, Oxford, White, Pennell, Barnes, Watts, Cline, Keller and many others. I have never been disposed to write a great deal and, if I were so disposed, I would probably never find the time. But owing to certain circumstances which have brought me into almost constant associa- tion with L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole and bound us together in the most sacred ties of fel- lowship, I have selected these three as the subject of (7) 8 Introduction this little book which must be, in the nature of the case, but a feeble gesture toward a true revelation of the character and worth of such men. Many people living in the county older than myself and far more capable will perhaps find the following pages a source of disappointment because many things of interest, known to them, have been left out. I sin- cerely hope, however, that I have not, through ignor- ance or inadvertence, detracted from the honor due these great servants of the people or dimmed the lus- ter of their brilliant careers. On the other hand it is hoped that many will find pleasure in perusing the sketch and be able to derive some benefit therefrom. My purpose in writing of these battle-scarred Sol- diers of the Cross, most of whom have stacked arms and gone from the field of conflict to the homeland of peace to be decorated for distinguished service at the hands of Him for whom they gave their lives in sacrificial service, is to preserve for future generations the facts contained herein, most of which must be, in the course of time, incorrectly remembered or entire- ly forgotten. William Ernest Linney. THE PREACHER OF THE OLD SCHOOL Upon hearing of the death of Hon. Champ Clark the Rev. Parks Gwaltney remarked that the last of the Old School Lawyers was gone. He was thinking, of course, of the lawyer of his boyhood days who by sheer strength of intellect and commanding power in the art of forensic debate could stir the mighty deeps and almost bring down the stars. He was thinking, too, of the days of long ago when his own mind and soul had thrilled under the moving oratory of those giants when they joined battle before a jury. The term "old school" was used to distinguish them from the pre- sent-day type of lawyer. Remarkable as has been the change in type of prac- ticing attorney in the past fifty years, in manner, in method, in zeal and fire — even in personal appearance — yet it may be said with truth that even a greater change has been wrought in the type of gospel min- ister. These chapters are not designed to discuss the moot question of whether the change indicated above is for the better or worse. This, it would seem, is a matter of personal opinion. But the fact remains that there has been such a change and that it has been so radical and so complete that there are left very few character- istics in the preacher of this our day calculated to re- mind one of the Lord's servants of fifty years ago. We are not left to guess about the reality of this (9) 10 The School Of The Prophets distinction. Our sources of information about the prea- cher of the "Old School" are abundant. We have his printed sermons, his expositions of the Scriptures, his history, his style and method, his hopes and aims in countless volumes. And what is more impressive still, we have the record of the amazingly stupendous task he performed in the field of evangelism. As to the modern preacher we have not only his printed materials but we have the preacher himself. Moreover, our knowledge of the modern prophet is not limited to the narrow scope of personal contact; for we may sit in our homes and hear the voice of the gos- pel across the continent. We may hear a sermon in San Francisco today and another in Tampa tomorrow. No great amount of intellect, scholarship or inspiration is required to make a comparison. If I were called upon to choose a single word which, according to my ideas of things, would most nearly de- scribe the outstanding characteristic of the preacher of fifty years ago, I would select the word "power". I use that word as it stands over against and is contrasted with the word "nicety" which, I believe, would very well express the modern conception of achievement in ministerial fields. I use the word "nicety" to cover a multitude of sins. Perhaps the words fastidious, deli- cate, dainty, precise, agreeable, effeminate and in rare instances, silly, would serve the same purpose. The old school preacher believed in a literal call from God to the work of the gospel ministry. He did not place quotation marks around the word "call" as an apology for using it. He believed that God was the author of his impressions to preach and that he was The Preacher Of The Old School 11 responsible to God for the manner of his response to his impressions. It is true that God's chosen servants have always been, as they are even today, characterized by a holy caution lest they be mistaken about the source of their impressions to preach. Someone has made the sarcas- tic suggestion that only those who are failures at every- thing else ever enter the ministry. But is this not the very reason why many of the world's greatest Christian statesmen are numbered with the prophets of the Lord? God has hedged them about with failure in other fields in order to bring them into their proper work. A young man studying for the ministry was asked by a college committee why he desired to enter the ministry. He answered, "Because all other ambitions have gone down before the revela- tion of life in Christ Jesus". Moses argued the question of his call with the Lord. "Lord, I am not eloquent". "Who am I, that I should go?" "O Lord, send, I pray thee, by thy hand of him thou wilt send". Isaiah could say only after the live coal from the altar had touched his lips, "Here am I, send me". Paul required a mighty shaking loose from his old ideas of things before he could say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do"? "I am the least of my fa- ther's house" is the tone of reverent protest expressing the deep feeling of unworthiness and unfitness among the servants of the Lord who have been called into his service. But "woe is me, if I preach not the gospel" is the universal expression of responsibility when once the burden has been shouldered. It was the venerable Greene Brown who said, "if 12 The School Of The Prophets I had a million dollars I would use half of it hiring prea- chers to quit, then I would use the other half suppor- ting those whom I could not hire". Whether or not the words of the old preacher are to be taken seriously they are, indeed, suggestive. It is no uncommon thing now-a-days to read, even in the religious press, that the reason for the present scarcity of ministerial stu- dents in our colleges and seminaries is that other fields are offering greater rewards. The preacher of other days believed that God would be with him in the proclamation of the gospel and that he would carry his message to the hearts of those who heard him. He took the words of Jesus literally, "Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world". He could say from his heart, as did Moses of old, "If thy presence go not with me, send us not up hence". How many Methodists of our day know that the great John Wesley had to learn the weakness of human flesh apart from the power of God by the saddest and most humiliating experience? After spending two years among the Indians and American colonists, he sailed back to England a sad and disappointed man be- cause his labors had been pitifully fruitless. He had come to America, perhaps, with the feeling that his "holy methods" and his scholastic attainments would be all-sufficient for the task before him. But, on his return to England, he wrote in his diary : "I went to America to convert the Indians, but O, who will convert me ?" His diary also reveals a continued self -searching as suggested by the following notation : The Preacher Of The Old School 13 "This, then, have I learned in the ends of the earth : that I am fallen short of the glory of God. I want the faith which Paul recommended to the world, which enables everyone to cry out, 'I live not, but Christ liv- eth in me' ". Wesley found this faith and with it he found that God alone can use the weakness of men to save a lost world. He went to hear George Whitefield preach out in the open air to ten thousand people. He saw thou- sands of hardened sinners gathered into the kingdom of Christ through the efforts of this mighty man of God ; and Wesley began a new ministry. He became so enthusiastic that the formal and lifeless churches of England refused to allow him to occupy their pulpits, just as they had refused Whitefield. His zeal was in bad taste with a religion gone to seed. The difference between the scholarly Wesley, the self-reliant, cultured Wesley of the first American ad- venture, and the powerful, on-sweeping, victorious John Wesley of a later day is simply nothing less than the difference between the power of a man and the power of God, and can be measured only by the dif- ference between a sad and dismal failure and a glo- rious victory. Wesley learned what every soul-winning preacher has learned : That God cannot use a preacher until the preacher uses God. The preacher of the early days of American life also believed something. He had deep and abiding con- victions about things. We are being told today that it matters little what one believes. We have become so liberal and "broad minded" in our thinking that if a preacher entertains fixed convictions about even a 14 The School Of The Prophets Bible doctrine he is branded as intolerant or bigoted. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" has no place in modern thinking. Not long ago a heart-broken father proposed this question to one of America's leading divines, "Is there any scriptural prohibition against my praying for my dead son?" To which the preacher replied, "I know of no scriptural reason why you should not pray for your dead son". I wondered just what his ready reply would have been if the question had been, "Is there any rea- son why I should not pray to dead saints?" It is possible, on the other hand, that the old school preacher may have been a little dogmatic and, in some instances, may have lacked somewhat of the benevo- lent and charitable spirit which should mark a man of God; but even so, it was due largely to his godly jealousy for what he believed to be the truth. He was never led in the direction of intolerance or persecution or anything remotely related to it. Of the two evils, that of being over zealous for what one believes, on the one hand, and the evil of accepting and swallowing anything and everything just for the sake of being "liberal" and agreeable on the other hand, let us have the first and deliver us from the last. If the devil should succeed in marshaling all the prea- chers into the ranks of the so-called "liberal" regime, so that everybody would believe everything and nobody would believe anything, he would be a greater glutton than he is reputed to be if he could muster up the nerve to ask for anything more. The preacher of the old school believed in the doc- trines of repentance and regeneration. He believed The Preacher Of The Old School 15 that all accountable persons who have not accepted the offered means of salvation are yet in their sins and lost. This conviction impelled him to urge that men repent and turn away from sin. Repentance involved a godly sorrow for sin and a mighty turning away from it and forsaking it. The work of the Holy Spirit is to awaken, renew, cleanse and sanctify. He did not believe that one may be born again, "born of the Spirit", "resurrected to a newness of life" without an experience of grace. He did not believe that to sign one's name at the bottom of an evangelist's card in the hand of some worldly young woman would "raise him from the dead" any more than he contemplated the "decision days" in the modern church. The preacher of fifty years ago believed the Bible. And it is amazing how those men, with few books to read and little time in which to study, could delve so deep into the rich mines of divine truth, interpreting the mind of the Spirit as it is revealed in the Scriptures. Yet, if you were to leave out of modern exposition of the Scriptures all the modern expositor borrowed from those same fathers there would not be left enough to make a book the size of Webster's blueback and it would not be nearly so valuable. Whence came their power of interpretation? A good portion of the answer lies in the fact that they were men of one book and that book was the Bible. The Bible was their man of counsel. It was the last court of appeal in all spiritual problems as well as in all the problems of life. Another reason, undoubtedly, is that they were men of prayer. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask 16 The School Of The Prophets of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him". The fathers believed that the Spirit who had in- dicted the "matter and form" of Scripture could and would also interpret it. Again, they sought for the truth with the glory of God and the salvation of lost men as their object. They could faithfully plead that object at a throne of grace. For the most part the preachers of fifty years ago were humble men. They came before God as empty vessels desiring to be filled. They got enough of them- selves out of the way to allow God to use them. When they were weak, then were they strong. I venture to say, reverently, I trust, that the Lord himself has never been able to do a great deal for this old lost world through the labors of a preacher who is full of himself. Once more, the preacher of fifty years ago was a man of character. No man can honestly claim perfec- tion and, so far as I know, none of them did. But with the facts of history before us, there seems to be no doubt that, with a rare exception now and then, these men were immune to the glitter of gold, unafraid of popular censure and unaffected by popular applause. The hope of earthly reward was not sufficient to allure them from the straight path of duty, nor was the fear of earthly punishment enough to deter them in the pur- suit of righteous achievement. That is a wonderfully interesting piece of American history which records the travels and labors, the strug- gles and sufferings as well as the victories of the pio- neer preacher who rode horseback or walked, preaching wherever he could gather together a group of settlers ; sometimes sleeping with his head on his saddle and The Preacher Of The Old School 17 the stars for a covering : without earthly remuneration, save the bread he ate, but always carrying on, always gaining ground, always conquering new fields and al- ways triumphant in the work of the Lord. There were giants in those days and "mighty men of renown" to whom we shall ever be indebted and whose memories we shall hold in reverence for the glo- rious things they did in planting the good news of sal- vation on every hill and in every dale in this new world. They possessed the apostolic spirit and labored with the apostolic zeal. God wonderfully honored them in an abundant harvest of souls for which they gave their lives and all that life means. I have ventured these observations with reference to the preacher of long ago in order, primarily, to ac- quaint the reader with the three characters about whom the following pages are written. J. P. and L. P. Gwalt- ney and Daniel Poole lived and labored under both the old order and the new, but in all respects, they belonged to the old order. Notwithstanding the fact that a major part of their ministry was under the new order they held like the needle to the pole to every redeeming ele- ment in the character of those romantic pioneers whose like we shall never see again. J. P. and L. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole were re- markable men. They grew up and entered the gospel ministry at a time when it was difficult to obtain an education because of the desolate conditions resulting from the Civil War. They were compelled to battle against the handicap of poverty through the period of reconstruction when the South was sweating blood in its struggles to recover from the bloody conflict of civil strife. 18 The School Of The Prophets But as fire is required to burn out the dross from the gold ; as wheat must pass through the threshing machine — the "tribulation" — to be separated from the chaff, it may be that a wise Providence has designed to bring out the most noble qualities in his servants by severe testings. At any rate these men met the conditions despite the times and buckled on the har- ness and never pulled it off again. It must be remembered that, even if there had been a desire on the part of rural churches to support their pastors, there was very little means with which to do it. These men labored in the field for a living and, in addition to the regular work on the farm, they studied the Bible, read books, prepared sermons, conducted funerals, held revival meetings, visited the sick and took a lively interest in social and civic affairs. But despite all obstacles these men forged ahead, always cheerfully facing the future, undaunted in the face of perplexing problems and unafraid of the ene- mies of righteousness. They maintained that spirit of meekness and humility that made them the objects of the fondest affection of thousands in every walk of life. Faith of our fathers living still In spite of dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy When e'er we hear that glorious ivord. Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, Were still in heart and conscience free; How sweet ivould be their children's fate If they, like them, could die for thee." Faith of our fathers, holy faith, We will be true to thee till death. J. P. GWALTNET Rev. Jay P. Gwaltney II THE BOYHOOD OF J. P. GWALTNEY John Gwaltney, the first of the American family of which we have any knowledge, settled on Rowe's Moun- tain some time before the Revolutionary War. He had three sons, Robert, Nathan and William, known as Gai- ther, or Gater. Robert settled at what is now known as the old Gwaltney place, just south of the South Yadkin River, in Iredell County, now Alexander, five miles south of the Brushy Mountains. Just when he located there is not certainly known. The fathers kept few records of personal affairs and, as a consequence, much of the his- tory, more especially family history, is lost. The same charge may be laid against us of the present generation also, for doubtless it will be as dif- ficult to trace family history one hundred years hence as it is today. We are interested, just as they were, largely in the present, unmindful of the importance of writing things down. We just simply don't write and the next generation will be searching in vain for records that were never made. It is known, however, that the Gwaltneys were of Welch ancestry. Howell Gwaltney, the father of J. P. Gwaltney, was a son of Robert Gwaltney, was born, reared, and died on the old Gwaltney farm where Robert Gwaltney loca- ted. Howell Gwaltney married Elsie Hendren, second daughter of William Hendren, II. Their children were William R., Jay P., Ran, Mattie, Lou, Rena, Jane, Joe, and Nancy. (21) 22 The School Of The Prophets It may be of interest to the people of Wilkes and Alexander Counties to know that there were three Wil- liam Hendrens among the Hendren fathers of Western North Carolina. William Hendren, I, came to this country from Ireland in colonial days. He was an officer in the American army in the Revolutionary War. He married a Miss Taylor, moved to Rowan County, North Carolina, where he lived for a time, and then moved back to the Parker place on the headwaters of Rocky Creek in Wilkes County. William Hendren, II, went to Kentucky when a young man, but returned to North Carolina and married Charlotte Ellis. Their children were Jabez, Elsie, Annie, Jehu, John, Josiah, William, III, and Jessie. The Hendrens were noted for their honesty and integrity and for religious inclinations. Wherever a Hendren of this stock is found today there will be a path leading from his house to the nearest church. They are a sturdy stock, morally speaking, and as de- pendable and trustworthy a people as live on the earth. On the other side of the house, the Gwaltneys were also a religiously inclined people. They were kindly disposed, very neighborly and peace-loving. They were associated always with the work of the church and were actively interested in every good enterprise. I never heard of a Gwaltney in the toils of the law. They were friends to everybody and everybody were their friends. It is difficult for young people living in these mo- dern times to form a true conception of what this coun- try was like one hundred or more years ago. One hundred years ago! That does not seem long, for no small part of American history was already made then. J. P. GWALTNEY 23 Yet what changes have taken place! All this vast stretch of mountain country was standing in virgin forest except for the "clearings" where, here and there, some settler had erected a cabin and elected to live. There were no cities and few towns for many miles ; there was hardly a single convenience, as modern con- veniences go ; no electric light, no gasoline motor, no telephone, no telegraph, not a railroad in many miles, no farm machinery, none with which to manufacture clothing or shoes or tools. In fact, in so far as this section is concerned, there was just about exactly no- thing that would be considered a convenience today. The roads ran straight over the hills as did also the corn rows. Plows, hoes and knives were made in the blacksmith shop. Clothing was made from yarn spun by hand on a wheel and woven into cloth on a home-made loom. Food was cooked over an open fire in pots and "skillets" made of iron. A glass jar was unknown. In order to preserve food it must be pick- led or dried. Coffee was made by parching rye or wheat and sugar was as scarce as the proverbial "hen's teeth". Bread made from wheat flour was enjoyed by the average family at most only on Sunday, and among the poorer classes it was a luxury kept for Christ- mas. "Store bought" coffee and "manafac" tobacco stood at the top of the list of human luxuries. Yet, strange to say, despite the hardships of the times, these people were far more contented and in- finitely more happy than the people of today. They knew nothing of the nervous strain in our modern life in order to keep up appearances. They did not lie 24 The School Of The Prophets awake all night trying to plan some way to "corner" the market nor did they pace the floor with nervous haste and sleepless eyes because there were rumors of a drop in the stock market. In those days when people lived a long ways apart, when roads were few and rough, when horse-back rid- ing was the fastest mode of travel, when doctors were few and there were no hospitals at all, when the mail came in once in the month and people walked eight miles to church, a neighbor was a neighbor. The near- est neighbors were glad to see each other and appre- ciated the value of neighborliness. In those days men possessed a high degree of honor. A man's word was his bond. Imagine a polling place where all the citizens of a certain territory came to cast their votes without a ballot box. They often voted in a hat and there was no one designated to guard even that. There stands a tree on a high hill in the county of Alexander which marks an ancient voting place. The fathers used to gather there at election and cast their votes in the "stove-pipe" hat of a certain citizen in that neighborhood and then go back home without a suspicion that their votes might not be counted. Perhaps the world is growing better, but I shall never believe that those old fathers anticipated a time when their own posterity would require a box car in which to vote if the lid were left off. In a certain sense times were hard in those days. Money was scarce and wages, if secured at all, were low. The process of farming was crude and slow. The young people went barefoot except in very cold wea- ther while their entire wardrobe of wearing apparel J. P. GWALTNEY 25 consisted of a one-piece garment, known in classic dic- tion as a shirt. Yet, as we have said, they were happy and con- tented. There are several reasons contributing to their contentment as well as to their health — for they seemed to have been strong and tough, physically. Not the least of the contributing causes for their happy lot was the fact that they lived in the open. They roamed the forests in search of game and followed the streams in quest of fish. They followed the course of the honey bee to the hollow tree where the dripping sweetness was stored and they called with the mate-call of the wild turkey and every crack of the long old rifle meant a juicy breakfast of the best meat that ever graced the table of any man. The forests abounded in game — turkey, squirrel, rabbit, pheasant, while the pure unchoked streams teemed with the finest fish. The bees made honey and the trained eye of the pioneer could follow his course right to the tree where he lived. Old man "Jack" Bradshaw, an old neighbor of mine in my childhood days, the most honest man I ever knew, told me that when he was a young man he climbed up the steep side of the "Big Mountain" just above his father's house one morning before day and sat down upon the ground with his long rifle in his hand. He said he sat there until he heard his mother call for breakfast and then he picked up twenty-two squirrels and wended his way homeward. The young people must have had a jolly time when they met together in the early days. They often met at each other's homes and sang together. They called 26 The School Of The Prophets it a "singing" and many were the pleasant nights in the long winter months they spent at these singings. "Log rollings" and corn shuckings were also occasions of enjoyment as well as of hard work. It was here the young man could demonstrate his physical powers in lifting the greatest load. At the corn shucking the young people would divide the corn pile in the middle, choose the shuckers and race to see which side would get done first. Often they raced to see who found the largest number of red ears of corn. And, last, but not least, when it was done, they filed to the farmer's house where hot coffee, chicken dumplings and pump- kin pie were served in the old fashioned way. It was under conditions like this that J. P. Gwalt- ney grew up. He knew how to do a hard day's work, learned to shoot squirrel and turkey, wore home-spun clothes and home-made shoes and a hat made of straw. He delighted to read whatever he could find and early in life formed the habit of church attendance. He grew up under conditions that actually did produce men of stalwart, though rugged, character. Like the hills among which they lived they were dependable, constant and towering in character and life. As a boy Jay Gwaltney attended the free public schools of two or three months in the year, studying the old blue-back speller along with some arithmetic. There was a good school at Sulphur Springs which he attended and later entered the Taylorsville Collegiate Institute, studying there until the outbreak of the war of 1861. When the call was made for volunteers, he enlisted in the army, as related in another chapter of this book J. P. GWALTNEY 27 and, after the war was over, returned home to rebuild his distressed and all but depopulated community. Thus it will be seen that his educational advantages were somewhat curtailed, although he made excellent use of his opportunities and advanced beyond the average of his day. As a boy and young man Jay Gwaltney was never what we term a bad fellow, although I would not have anyone believe that he was a sanctimonious anchoret. Quite to the contrary he was as full of life and vigor as a young man can well be. He liked very much to attend the neighborhood singing and, by the way, he had a deep, smooth and mellow bass voice which never grew rasping or grating until he was a very old man. He liked to meet with the young people in their social gatherings and there never could be a dull moment in any company where he was. He enjoyed the chase as heartily as ever a man did. His love for the "music of the hounds" never for- sook him. He used to tell of the races of the long ago and his eyes would sparkle as he thought of the crying hounds and the old friends who followed them whom he would never see again here below. But notwithstanding his love of fun Jay Gwaltney had been brought up with certain inherent principles which he never violated. One of these was respect for old age. He liked to listen to the conversation of old people and entered heartily into the spirit of sympathy and interest. Some of the most impressive sermons of his life were spiced and enlivened by relating the experiences and sayings of old people to whom he had respectfully 28 The School Of The Prophets listened when a child. He never carried a joke to the point of personal injury and was a true sportsman in being able to take as well as to give. Somewhere in this book it is stated that J. P. Gwalt- ney could beat a negro at his own game in the fluent use of Southern negro dialect. It may be said with equal truth that he was a past master in the fine art of stage performance. The following incident will serve to illustrate his ability to amuse and entertain an audience. It was at the close of the school at Sulphur Springs. Great preparation had Iteen made for the commence- ment exercises. Jay had been selected to act the part of a gentleman of color and had rehearsed his part to the point of perfection. A large wooden structure to serve as a platform had been erected on the outside of the building where the crowd would assemble in the open space in front, where seats had been placed for the purpose. The people came from far and wide. All the seats had been taken before the exercise began and many were standing. They were expecting great things and were not disappointed. When the stage was set and the curtain raised, a tall, sprightly negro in long black coat and shiny shoes stepped briskly to the front and began to "elu- cidate" an address that never had a natural ending. For the crowd began yelling and surging forward, climbing upon the stage and around this negro preach- er until, under the weight of so many people, the stage collapsed, coming down with a crash and brought with it the crowd that was on it, the speaker and the fix- tures. Thus ended Act No. 1, Scene 1. The commence- J. P. GWALTNEY 29 merit ended until the debris could be removed and the space cleared for further performance. In another chapter it will be seen that Jay Gwalt- ney was converted at the age of fifteen ; that he never entered the ministry until he was thirty-three years old, there being a period of eighteen years between his conversion and his ordination — from 1855 to 1873. But during all this time he had wrestled with the growing impression to preach. Even in his most jolly moods of merry-making there had been an undercurrent of most solemn self-searching. During his service in the army these impressions never left him whether on the bat- tlefield or around the camp fire. He related in after years how, while the missiles of death were filling the air all around him and men were falling on the right and left, the words of the Psalmist would come to him with the roar of the cannon and the rattle of the mus- ketry, "a thousand shall fall at thy left side and ten thousand at thy right hand ; but it shall not come nigh unto thee". Is it a great wonder that as long as he lived he believed that a man is immortal till his work is done? Ill AN OLD TIME CONVERSION Bethel Baptist church in Alexander was once a noted place for great assemblies, especially during the revival season in August of each year. In the olden days people living at a distance would bring bedding and provision for a week's stay and tent in small, one- room houses built for the purpose and live comfortably. The church being too small to accommodate the people 30 The School Of The Prophets a larger arbor was erected for use in hot weather. The church was a sort of social center, there being few places of public attraction elsewhere. This was true, not because the fathers understood the church to be a social organization, as it seems to be understood in some quarters today, for they were very much alive to the spiritual nature and purpose of the church; but the people living miles apart and seeing each other only once in a long time were really glad to meet and to greet each other and an opportunity was offered for the gratification of that very natural desire to talk and talk and talk. No people ever found more satisfaction or derived more pleasure from the social side of these gatherings than they. In speaking of those old days one who has ever lived in Alexander County is reminded of the old Me- thodist campground at Rocky Springs where there was a great arbor in the center of the spacious grounds with two rows of tents all the way around. The large old- fashioned church stood within the inclosure with its tall pulpit and its cushioned "preacher's lounge". It was no uncommon thing for people to gather there in such large numbers that there was not room enough in the arbor and so a second service would be held in the church. I have stood on the grounds there when a boy and heard two preachers speaking with all their might and main at the same time not much more than thirty yards from each other. It was at the August meeting in 1855, at Bethel, the preacher was Rev. Gilson Bryant, a man about whom I have been able to learn very little, nor have I any knowledge of what he used that day for a text. The J. P. GWALTNEY 31 message reached the ear of J. P. Gwaltney, then only fifteen years old, and he immediately, upon the invita- tion, presented himself at the "mourner's bench" as an object of prayer. The spirit was moving mightily upon the hearts of sinners and many were being saved. Jay became so intensely concerned that he prostrated himself upon the straw which was used as a carpet on the dirt floor of the arbor and to quote his own words as I have heard him relate it, "I became so deeply con- victed for sin that the black clouds of Divine justice shut me in. I saw myself lost and ruined and helpless. My sins, rolled up before me like a great mountain and I could almost feel myself slipping off into eternal despair". For a long time he lay there and wrestled with the most momentous question ever yet propounded in this world. He realized that there was nothing within his own power upon which he could depend. He realized that all his good works, all his prayers, all the pray- ers of his friends and loved ones and every other earth- ly thing were without avail in so far as merit is con- cerned. His main difficulty lay in his inability to believe that God would, for Christ's sake, pardon and save a sinner upon the simple terms of a complete sur- render of his will to the will of Christ. But let him tell us how the light broke in : "The choir was singing, 'Save Mighty Lord' and as they repeated the refrain, 'Let a repenting rebel live, save mighty Lord' the sunlight of God's pardoning grace burst in upon me, and joy unspeakable and that fadeth not away floodeth my soul. When I arose from the ground I felt as one walking on the air. The very trees about the place were radiant with light. The 32 The School Of The Prophets old campground seemed transformed Into a Paradise of beauty. How heavenly were the songs of Zion and how sweet the voices of the saints ! The wrinkled, tear- stained faces of the old saints who gathered around me were as the faces of the angels. My soul was re- joicing in the knowledge of pardoned sins". There are those among us today who feel that a conversion like that of Jay Gwaltney was an hallucin- ation ; that it was fanciful and not real ; that it is purely a play upon a highly wrought emotional nature. But when it is recalled that J. P. Gwaltney was not a high- ly emotional man and that in his most quiet and com- posed moments that conversion was just as vivid and just as real to him as any other act or experience of his life, and that when he came down to the end of life's way he was still triumphantly trusting in the Christ he found that day, I, for my part, am compelled to believe that there was nothing unreal or imaginary about it. Let it not be forgotten that animal excit- ment is one thing and that a pungent, soul-searching conviction of sin is another thing, altogether. There is a story, often repeated, of a slave owner who said to his servant, "Aleck, I am convinced that all this ado people make about religion is nothing but bosh. There is absolutely nothing to a heart-felt re- ligion that I know of". To which the old negro replied "At's right, Mass-a, dar ain't no sich thing as heart- felt 'ligion dat you knows of". If only men could behold sin in all its horrid pro- portions and aspects, in its blighting, blasting and dam- ning influence upon the life and souls of men, and could know how God hates sin in every form and in J. P. GWALTNEY 33 every person, whether it be in the beggar in his hovel or the king on his throne ; if only men could know the penalty attached to sin and could realize the fright- ful price that must be paid for indulging in it and know the price that God has paid to redeem men from it, surely men would be stirred to the very deepest depths when they realize sin in themselves. If a reali- zation such as this would not arouse the emotional nature in men it would be hard to conceive of anything in this world that would. Moreover, if the old time conviction and conver- sion was not real, but a fanciful play upon the emotions only, it should still be the burden of the prayer of every Christian that God would send this generation a season of highly fanciful and imaginary revival. For up from those beds of straw where strong men have lain prostrate before God and lifted up their voices in suppliant cry for mercy, have come the very salt of the earth and the light of the world. I hereby chal- lenge the whole wide world with its ceremonial and catechismal methods of induction into the church along with the modern methods of evangelism which includes neither, to point out a more substantial, dependable, honorable and spiritual group of citizens than that produced under the methods of evangelism of fifty years ago ! Gwaltney liked to tell of his conversion. He would often appeal to seekers by relating his own experience with the hope of leading them to the light as he had found it in the long ago. Paul liked to go back to the old Damascus road and live over again those stirring moments when first he met the Lord. When he was called to stand before kings and governors to defend 34 The School Of The Prophets the faith that was in him he began with that experi- ence as the bed-rock of all his hope and faith. Not that he went back there to "lay again the foundation of repentance from dead works" but as Clarence Dixon once said, "We leave the foundation when we build a house but we never forsake the foundation". I trust I shall be pardoned for closing this chapter with a very personal and very pointed question. If ripe old saints like J. P. Gwaltney who have walked with the Lord, men and women who have added grace to grace and experience to experience, so delighted to go back to their "Bethel" as did Jacob of old and say, "Surely this is the house of God and the gate of heav- en", what comfort in this world, or in contemplation of the one to come, can there be for him who knows no "Bethel", no place or time or experience. Can we say, "O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee my Saviour and my God". Or can we say with the poet, "0 sacred hour, O hallowed spot Where Love Divine first found me; Wherever falls my distant lot My heart shall linger 'round thee. And when from earth I rise to soar Up to my home in heaven Down will I cast my eye once more Where I was first forgiven". IV OFF TO THE WAR The records show that J. P. Gwaltney enlisted in the army of the Southern Confederacy as a volunteer in the month of May, 1861, under the command of Major J. P. GWALTNEY 35 General A. P. Hill, Lane's Brigade, Seventh North Carolina Regiment under Col. Reuben Campbell ; Com- pany A. under Captain June Hill. Thus it is seen that he was among the first to answer the call to arms when war was declared between the North and the South. He was only twenty-one years old but tall and strong and, withal a jolly good fellow. His jovial, friendly disposition made him a popular soldier and stood him in good stead among the boys in gray in the long struggle of the 60's while marching and camping and fighting in a country new and strange. He could mimic to perfection anyone whom he had ever known and when it came to the negro dialect he could beat any Southern negro who ever lived. He loved a joke or a good yarn and was a fine spirit from the standpoint of sportsmanship. Many interesting incidents are related of his merry-making while in the army. However, one must not form the opinion that he was of such a frivolous nature as to mar his vision of the stern and serious realities of life. Rather he was one of those rare spirits whose nature it was to laugh, and to make others laugh, rather than pine or brood over conditions which he could not control. This buoyant disposition and cheerful nature was of great value to him, and to hundreds of others around many a faraway campfire and upon many a weary march. Sometimes he would gather a group of soldiers around him and address them as a candidate for office — for the Presidency, perhaps, setting forth his claim upon them for their support in the coming election, using the most extravagant, absurd and sometimes 36 The School Of The Prophets ridiculous phraseology to establish his claims and to assure them of his fidelity. Sometimes he would im- personate some colored preacher whom he had known and give the soldiers a demonstration of Southern col- ored pulpit oratory. But whether he was a politician or a colored preacher he was. so original and did his act with such grace and skill and did it so naturally that the camp would roar with laughter. It was his love of fun that won for him the name of "Keaton", a name which he never shook off as long as he lived and never will as long as there is a Con- federate soldier living who knew him. It came about in this way: There lived in this country a rich slave trader by the name of Silas Keaton, a tall, dignified man of commanding appearance. He wore a long over- coat of fine quality which, in cold weather, he would button closely about him adding to his portly appear- ance. Of course all the young fellows would look up- on a man of Keaton's build with admiration and would reckon him as the standard of excellence in comparing their claims to manhood. It so happened that on one occasion the War De- partment gave out overcoats to the soldiers. Each soldier gladly received his coat and when Jay Gwalt- ney drew his he put it on and, buttoning it close around him, straightened up to his full height, walked out in front and said, "Gentlemen, this is Keaton". Jay Gwaltney used to tell of a soldier in the army who was given up to be the most homely, scrawny in- dividual to be found in the army, but he was a wit, especially when the moving forces of a little toddy got into action. Once upon a time the soldiers were given J. P. GWALTNEY 37 a small bottle of brandy each, to be carried in the knapsack for cases of necessity. But this little man drank all of his at one gulp and soon began to feel both great and rich. The soldiers were lounging about the camp, ready for any sort of amusement, when suddenly he arose and faced the camp and addressed the soldiers as fol- lows : "Gentlemen, and fellow-soldiers, I desire to make a few remarks and, first of all, I wish to say that I am the best man in this camp and, secondly, I wish to say that I am the bravest man in Lee's army and, last but not least, I wish to say that I am the prettiest man in the Southern Confederacy". There lived in Alexander County a man of almost miniature proportions by the name of Harve Conolly. I have known Harve all my life and I am quite sure he was, in many respects, the most remarkable man I have ever known. For one thing he was as tough, phy- sically, as a black-jack and could endure enough ex- posure and suffering to kill any ordinary man. For another thing, he never got excited, no matter what was happening. He remained perfectly cool and col- lected and could talk as quietly and deliberately as the judge on the bench when everyone else about him was in a furor. He lived to be very old, probably ninety or more, and retained his mental resources to a re- markable degree down to the very end. Little Harve Conolly was as brave a soldier as ever shouldered a gun. He was never very well trained, however, for the reason that he would not allow the officers to dictate to him how he should march or car- ry a gun. And, despite all that could be said or done, 38 The School Of The Prophets he carried his gun on his shoulder and neither remon- stration nor threat would bring it down, until he got good and ready to take it down of his own free volition. Jay Gwaltney was in the same company with Harve. They often fought side by side and as they fought, conversed about anything they chose as long as they could hear each other above the roar of battle. It happened one day while fighting in a battle that they agreed to wait, one for the other, when the load was placed in the gun, and shoot at the same time. Once Jay succeeded in loading first and jokingly re- minded Harve that he had beaten him that time, where- upon Harve dryly retorted, "Well, dang it all, won't you give a fellow time to get a chaw of tobacco?" He had delayed in loading his gun while he fished in his pockets for the tobacco. Jay Gwaltney used to tell of Harve's bravery and how he seemed to be positively without fear. He re- lated the following incident as an example : The South- ern army and Northern forces were fighting one day in a wooded district in the state of Virginia. The enemy was sheltered somewhat by the forest and was doing deadly work from that vantage point. Harve felt that his comrades needed encouragement. He be- came terribly angry at seeing his fellow soldiers fall- ing by his side and so, in a loud clear voice he admon- ished his fellows thus : "Rally to the colors, boys, rally to the colors ! Take your time, soldiers, don't waste your powder. Aim, take aim! Shoot straight just like you were hunting squirrels on Lunn's Mountain". (Lunn's Mountain was a spur of Asbury's Mountain in Alexander County, a place noted for squirrels.) J. P. GWALTNEY 39 One night away out in the hills just before the bat- tle of Gettysburg the soldiers were sitting around the campfire talking of the probable outcome of the war. Some expressed the hope that the war would soon come to an end; others were less hopeful. Harve Conolly said, "Fellows, I wish to the Lord we could settle this thing tonight. I wish we could meet the enemy and fight it out to the last man. If I am going to be killed I want to be killed and have it over with ; but if I am to go home I want to go home. I am tired of this eter- nal dragging over the face of the earth". And every soldier there knew very well that Little Harve meant exactly what he said. After the close of the war robbers raided out from Fort Hamby in Wilkes County and did a great deal of plundering and killed several people. A group of sol- diers attacked the fort and fought a fierce battle with them in which two more lost their lives. L. Parks Gwaltney, then little more than a boy, was with the soldiers on the hill overlooking the fort. He relates the following incident relative to this queer little man, Harve Conolly. He was standing on a hill looking over at the fort when Harve came up and, looking also across to the fort, said in a quiet voice almost unearthly in its pathos, "Lord God, I would almost give my interest in heaven for a cannon". This little book is a biography, not a history of the people of Alexander County; but I have felt impelled to honor the memory of Harve Conolly by a statement of the facts herein. Soon these noble characters will have been forgotten who fought as no other soldiers have ever fought in this world for a cause they believed to be just. If there could be a true and impartial story 40 The School Of The Prophets written on many another man and woman who have lived in the little county it would read like a fairy tale. The purest Anglo-Saxon blood in the most inspir- ing environment, at the most auspicious period in American history, is the background, the original cause, for the most intrepid, adventurous, romantic and highly honorable citizenship that ever graced an age or a country. J. P. Gwaltney was twice captured in the course of the war. First he was captured in a battle around Hanover Junction and carried over the Yankee line, but was soon set free in an exchange of prisoners. He rejoined his comrades and followed the flag over the fields of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and took part in the struggle around Gettysburg, at which place he was captured again and carried to Ft. Dela- ware where he was kept three months and from there he was taken to Governor's Island, New York, where he remained till the close of the war. It was on Governor's Island where he was taken sick with some lingering and seemingly incurable malady, induced largely by the use of tainted food and exposure. Here in order to escape death from this wasting disease he took the oath of allegiance to the Union and, after the close of the war when he was well again, he was sent out to the Canadian border to guard the Indians. It was while he lay sick in the prison he wrote the following lines which give us an insight into the feelings of a young man far from home, among strang- ers and enemies with little hope of ever seeing home or loved ones again. J. P. GWALTNEY 41 / left my father, mother dear And to the war did go I left my friends, relations all To fight the invading foe. But what is worse for soldiers yet It grieves my heart to know The sorrow, trouble and regret When captured by the foe. Upon an island of the sea I am confined to stay — Not one is here to comfort me; Not one to sing and pray. But alas, my hopes all bright Were all at once made dim; The fever in its angry might Is felt in every limb. No mother here to pray for me, No father to console; No sister dear to comfort me, No brother to behold. O Lord, a father to me be 0, save me or I die Thy mercies Lord, are large and free O, send them from on high. Methinks I hear some lonely sound A fervent prayer for me. In thunder tones it speaks aloud "My mother's on her knee". 42 The School Of The Prophets / know my friends do wonder where And ofttimes think I'm dead It causes them to suffer fear And many tears to shed. O Lord, My God, how can I stay Beneath this hostile sky? My friends are all so far away And surely I shall die. But Lord, if Thou wilt let me live And raise me up again My heart to thee I'm bound to give And glorify thy name. Young men who are prisoners, too hear what I shall say: Remember Christ has died for you And him you must obey. 1 know, young men, that you are brave, But you and I must fall The strong and weak must fill the grave For God will humble all. My felloiv-soldiers near me, hear! Who faced the cannon's mouth And fearlessly performed your part To save the sunny South. I bid you all go on in haste Your flag in triumph wave The South shall be a home at last For the gallant and the brave. J. P. GWALTNEY 43 CALLED OF GOD When the Civil War closed and the ragged remnant of Southern soldiers returned home they were confront- ed on every hand with poverty and distress. There was scarcely anything to eat, horses and cattle had been driven away, the land was depleted, Confederate money was worthless and silver and gold were unknown quan- tities. As a suggestion of how hard the people fared, there lived on the head waters of Rocky Creek in Alex- ander County a young man who had fought through the four years of conflict, had been wounded and re- turned home to try to make a living on the farm. He managed to secure enough corn to plant and a little to eat; but where to find meat or anything else he did not know. He solved the problem in the following way: he made a fish basket of splits, placed it in Rocky Creek, baked corn cakes and visited the fish trap daily for the catch which, as luck would have it, almost always proved to be enough for the daily need. He turned his horse loose at night to eat grass and thus he man- aged to pull through till the crop was harvested. Prac- tically every family in Alexander County of the poor- er classes were compelled to resort to some such means of a livelihood for the first few years after the war. Let me say here, for the encouragement of some- one who may be fighting against the odds of poverty, that this young man studied law, was s.oon enjoying a fine practice and rose to national fame in after years. 44 The School Of The Prophets J. P. Gwaltney came home from the war and mar- ried Miss Nannie Milholland, a daughter of Thomas Milholland, and began housekeeping at the Solomon Davis place near Bethel church. Here they man- aged to outwit the old Colonel Starvation until a crop was raised and the fires of Reconstruction had burned out. They had managed well and seemed to be on the road to plenty, were living happily and hopefully. But this happy home life, always a most tender memory in the years to come, was destined to a short dura- tion ; for the young wife died and left him lonely, des- pondent and dejected. We are told that fire is required to burn out the dross from the gold ; that behind every crown there is a cross. It is a rather peculiar fact, but a fact, nevertheless, that tens of thousands of young men and women have grown up in the midst of plenty, even in luxury only to throw their opportunities to the winds and live a life of failure and die in obscurity ; while tens of thousands of others have come up from the very depths of want to bless the world with lives of service and to write their names high on the pages of fame. Moses was born a slave and herded sheep on the plains of Midian for forty years. Joseph was sold in- to slavery and finally landed in jail. Job lost all he had in the world and sat in ashes, covered with sores. David came from the fields where he attended his fa- ther's sheep to be anointed King of Israel. Ruth came afoot and empty handed from a strange land and gleaned in the fields of Boaz to get bread to eat. Gid- eon was threshing wheat and hiding it from the ma- rauding bands of Midianites when he was called by J. P. GWALTNEY 45 an angel of the Lord. Elisha was. plowing in the field with oxen when the mantle of Elijah was laid upon him. So it has ever been and so it will probably ever be. Jay Gwaltney had felt for a long time, probably since his conversion, that there was work for him to do of a more public nature than teaching in Sunday School or talking in prayer meeting. This impression grew upon him with the years, but it was hard for him to face the question squarely and commit himself to the will of God in so solemn and responsible a matter as that of preaching the gospel. He could not convince himself that the Lord would so honor him, a man with limited education and, as he felt, of ordinary ability. But, as Parks Gwaltney once said, "When the Lord calls a man to preach he also calls someone to tell him about it", so it happened. The brethren were also im- pressed that Gwaltney should preach and finally per- suaded him to go with them to a meeting at Poplar Springs and there he launched out on his initial ef- fort in the pulpit. There was a large crowd to hear him, including a number of preachers. He read the text, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock", and then "thrust out into the deep". He had a hard pull, but he made the landing and from then on (1870) he never looked back until he had rounded out a career of nearly six- ty years as powerful as it was greatly blessed in the transformation of thousands of lives. He continued to preach wherever opportunity af- forded, but it was three years before he could make up his mind to allow the brethren to ordain him to 46 The School Of The Prophets the full work of the ministry. He had already been call- el to the pastorate of a church or two and so he finally decided to be ordained. Accordingly, in October, 1873, the following breth- ren met at Sulphur Springs, formed a presbytery, were accepted of the church and proceeded to ordain him to the work : L. P. Gwaltney, J. H. Booth, W. A. Poole, Robert Steele and I. W. Thomas. Was not that an array of eminent Baptist divines? I doubt if there could be assembled from any rural neighborhood on the American continent a group of preachers, its own production and talent, as intellectual, as scholarly and as able as the group that met that day at the little country church and laid their hands on this young preacher. Gays Chapel has. the distinction of being the first church to extend him a call to serve as pastor. The church at Pleasant Hill (Blackoak Ridge) was the second. Among the churches served by him during the course of his ministry are the following: Dudley Shoals, Walnut Grove, Mt. Olive, Little River, Pil- grim, Damascus, Bethel, Bethany, Oak Forest, Holly Springs, Zion, Taylor Springs, Prospect, Linney's Grove, Wilkesboro, South River, and perhaps others. Whoever has been blessed with the things of this world and has had the sense and the grace to use it for the advancement of human happiness deserves the hearty commendation of all people ; but whoever has actually battled against poverty and obscurity and has fitted himself for a life of usefulness in spite of these handicaps and has given all he has and is to be laid on the altar of service, deserves the profoundest gratitude of all mankind. J. P. GWALTNEY 47 I am persuaded that the people of Alexander County and the surrounding country do appreciate the unsel- fish and loving spirit which prompted J. P. Gwaltney to give them freely the best that was possible for him to give. Jay was a friend indeed to those who were in need, and no night was too dark or road too rough for him when he could go to comfort those who were in distress or to help a sinner find a Saviour. Jay Gwaltney never stopped to ask if men were rich or poor, good or bad; he had only to know that some soul, made in the stamp and image of God, had need of him, and with all the affection of a beneficent nature and with all the earnestness of a man on business for the King he was ready to spend and to be spent in His service. After he fully and definitely surrendered his will to the will of Him who had brought him safely through the perils of war and raised him again from a bed of affliction, he burned all the bridges behind him. If he ever faltered in the face of trying ordeals, or, having put his hand to the plow, looked back, no one ever knew of it but him. He was always facing the sun, always hopeful, cheerful, zealous. And somehow, not- withstanding the limited and sometimes negligible re- muneration allowed him by the churches, he always had a living. Jesus said to his disciples, "Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves". Parks Gwaltney used to say that meant, "I will not only send you out among the wolves but I will protect you from their teeth and, what is more, I will make them feed you". It seems that the servants of the Lord who have trusted Him for the 48 The School Of The Prophets temporal things of life as well as for spiritual guid- ance have always had bread to eat. There lived in the northern corner of Alexander County an old Baptist preacher who owned a good farm and always made plenty of wheat and corn and meat for the year. But when he got ready to start out into the revival season each year his wife would bemoan his going in language like this : "I do not see how you can go at this time of the year when there is so much that ought to be done. You will be gone for weeks and everything will be gone to pieces when you come back. We will simply starve to death — next year". She had to say "next year" because the crib was full of corn and there was meat to sell, and wheat aplenty to sup- ply their needs this year. VI J. P. GWALTNEY, THE PREACHER There is no such thing, I think, as class distinction or gradations in the gospel ministry in the sense of superior or inferior ranks, or orders. Certainly there is no such thing taught in the New Testament. Jesus and his immediate followers never contemplated such a distinction, or if so, they never once even remotely intimated such a thing. The fact is that, so far as the example set by the Apostolic Church is concerned, it is difficult to distinguish between the ministry and the laity. Just as the presumptuous claim of Popery is a hideous blasphemy, so is the arbitrary grading of the ministry into cardinals, bishops, priests and whatnots a travesty upon the New Testament Scrip- tures. J. P. GWALTNEY 49 There is, however, a distinction of another sort. Jesus authorized this distinction when he said, "Who- soever will be great among you let him be your minis- ter (attendant or body-guard), and whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant (bond- slave)". According to Jesus then, a man is. great or small according to the amount and quality of service he renders. There never was and never can be any other Scrip- tural authority for class distinction in the gospel min- istry. It will be difficult, therefore, for us to deter- mine who is the greatest among the prophets of the Lord ; for we shall never know who has rendered the most valuable service to the world until we shall all gather around the great white throne. With the above understanding of the term "class" or "rank" I shall be permitted to divide all the preach- ers whom I have ever known into four groups which are described as follows : First, that class of preachers who have failed to grow for lack of application. They have never learned to study, have never kept their minds in training and as a consequence they have never grown an inch, intel- lectually, since the day they were ordained. If you have heard them once it is enough; they will preach that same sermon every time regardless of the text employed. I do not mean to belittle these brethren. Probably a greater number of us belong to this class than even we ourselves have ever suspected. And what is more, God has often used them greatly for His glory. Then there is that high voltage, domineering, ego- tistical, self-seeking, self-sufficent prognosticator who 50 The School Of The Prophets firmly believes that wisdom will die with him and, like the Pharisee, thanks God that he is not as other men. He looks down from his lofty position of imagi- nary glory with sarcastic contempt, mingled with af- fected pity and marvels greatly that the Good Lord ever suffered the rest of mankind to be so infinitesi- mally ignominious. This brother has inhaled or, it may be, absorbed, the sermonic output of some kindred spirit and with great pomp and splendor, as terrible as an army with banners, he palms it off upon a credulous public as his own. Yet, brethren, take courage, there are not a great many of them and there is always hope as long as there is breath ; and there is plenty of breath. In the third place, there is that nice, precise, scho- lastic pulpit lecturer. He is careful with his dress, his position in the pulpit, including which angle his toes form. He must have his discourse carefully written out in manuscript which he deftly turns, leaf by leaf, as each is finished. He leaves off no jot or tittle and, without modulation of voice or change of expression he proves to the enemy lines, beyond the shadow of a doubt, two or three propositions, neither of which would make a whit of difference to this old lost and ruined world whether it were true or untrue. He, it is, around whom the first ladies in silken gowns and faces wreathed in powder and smiles, ga- ther to lavish praise upon the discourse, none at all of which they have understood. No congregation should find cause to fault him, for he will allow them to glide peacefully and supinely down the placid stream to the very jumping-off place, sleeping sweetly as they go. J. P. GWALTNEY 51 And, fourth, the preacher who has realized that he is only one of the several billion of the earth's popula- tion and that if he is to accomplish anything of value in this life he must work. He is never satisfied with a make-believe — a sham. He is humble enough to know that, within his own strength, he will be a failure and so he gives God a chance to use him. Paul expresses the feeling of every God-called preacher when he says, "I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some". "Woe is me, if I preach not the gospel". I would not undervalue the training offered by the university and the seminary. Surely every man who yearns to preach and feels that he is divinely set apart for the work of the ministry will make the best pos- sible use of his time and talent. He will go to college if he can and will secure the splendid training offered at the seminary if he can and, in fact, he will be a faithful and zealous student all his life long. But somehow I have never been able to share the conviction with most of the educational specialists that God is entirely dependent upon the colleges and semi- naries for carrying out His plan of offering to the world salvation through Jesus Christ by the mouth of His chosen ambassadors. Neither am I able to agree with those who believe that, because a man has not had these advantages, he is, therefore, a failure. Not many years ago I was in conversation with a group of men who were seeking a pastor for their small-town church. They said, in substance, "We would not consider a man who is not a D. D. [whatever that is] . We want a young man who is a good mixer [what- 52 The School Of The Prophets ever that is] a good organizer [I am not sure what that is] and a good collector". All of us. know what that is. But not one word was said about such little unimportant matters as character, spirituality, ability to preach, or any other of the minor traits and qualifi- cations of a preacher. These brethren are not so much to blame after all, for they had followed the line marked out for them by popular religious teaching. These good brethren had been fed on stock phrases from our top-heavy educational departments and from the religious platform until they had entirely lost sight of the mission of their church and the business of a preacher. The amusing thing in it all was the fact that not one of them was a high school graduate and they were all so recently from the farm that their gar- ments still smelled with new-mown hay and the black- berry stain was still on their fingers. But they knew one thing : they were members of a town church which must keep "in the swim". What if the British Government should adopt the philosophy of these brethren in assembling material for the Parliament? What if our own great country should only require that the members of that august body, the Supreme Court, should be "good mixers." "only young men" and "good organizers"? I read not long ago in one of our religious journals a recom- mendation for a young preacher by one of his friends who gave emphasis to the fact that the young preach- er had won special distinction in college as a "high jumper". What if our great industrial organizations should select their managerial personnel by the same standards by which many of our poor little, half dead Baptists churches select a pastor? J. P. GWALTNEY 53 If I have anything near a correct idea as to the greatest need among Christian churches in this our day, it is the need of God-called men who are acquain- ted with Jesus Christ and whose souls are aflame with a deathless passion for lost men. Neither Peter, James or John could meet the modern conception of a pastor nor could Parks Gwaltney or Gypsy Smith. The two men returning from Emmaus walked and talked with Jesus and afterward expressed their feel- ings to each other, "Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way?" The preacher who walks and talks with Jesus will have a burning heart. He will have a passion for souls, lost in sin, that no power can subdue. He will see in every man and woman and boy and girl, no matter how hardened in sin or abandoned in character, potentialities as glo- rious as heaven and as dangerous and awful as the bottomless pit. His soul burns with an overmastering desire to be instrumental in transforming the moral desert about him to make it rejoice and blossom as the rose. He flatters not the rich, to court his favor, nor does he cringe before the mob, to evade its wrath. He does not compromise the truth to gain applause nor is he deceived when error comes in the garb of wealth or rank or culture. J. P. Gwaltney did not belong to the first group described above. He did not belong to the second group, for if Moses was the meekest man, Jay Gwalt- ney was a close second. He did not belong in the third group because there never could be a dull moment while he was in the pulpit. Therefore, in all essential 54 The School Of The Prophets respects he would fall among the preachers of the fourth group. If the qualities set forth in this group are qualities of greatness, then Jay Gwaltney was a great preacher. Some one has said, "You can put my sermons on paper but you can't put me on paper". I fully realize the futility of any effort to put down on paper a fair and adequate portrayal of a man possessing the viva- cious personality, the wit, the resourcefulness and at the same time the reverence which characterized Jay Gwaltney. J. P. Gwaltney was a tall, stalwart man of stately bearing and commanding appearance in his vigorous days. Yet there was something about his humble and reverent attitude when addressing an audience which produced at once an atmosphere of ease and secured an undivided and sympathetic hearing. The word "gentleman" signifies a gentle man — a man easily ap- proached and in whose presence one feels at ease and is not restless or embarrassed. If this is a correct defi- nition J. P. Gwaltney was a gentleman of the most noble order. Gwaltney possessed one rare quality which must have been natural with him since he had never studied elocution and did not seem to be thinking much of ex- pression : he had the happy faculty of smoothness of expression. He seemed to be able to use the right word, or combination of words, most exactly expres- sive of the thought in hand and at the same time em- ploying phrases least rasping or grating upon the ear. And he possessed this enviable power to a remarkable degree not alone with reference to phraseology but J. P. GWALTNEY 55 that pleasing, rippling smoothness characterized the whole arrangement of his discourse. He was a mas- ter of expression without a knowledge of the subject and without being aware of it. There are a few public speakers who possess the power of description to a greater or less degree, but rarely in a lifetime does one meet with a public speak- er who can actually paint word pictures in colors and set them up before the eye in bold relief. Jay Gwalt- ney had few equals and hardly a superior in this field. He never acted out the scenes he wished to describe as some speakers do, but he could bring the scenes be- fore the eye with such a degree of realistic exactness and with such vivid outlines that it was almost as if one were viewing the characters involved as the scenes were being reenacted. I have heard him describe the fall of Pharaoh's hosts in the Red Sea. He could bring the surging, struggling warriors of old Pharaoh with their plung- ing horses, with the dragging chariot wheels, and set them down right in the middle of the trough of the Red Sea, and then reach up and turn the walls of water loose upon them while Moses and the children of Israel stood on the shore and shouted Hosannas of victory and praise until one was ready to run one min- ute, lest he be drowned, and to shout the next for joy with the hosts of Israel. I have heard him describe the cleansing of Naa- man, the leper, and I have seen old Naaman go down into the water of Jordan all covered with the loath- some disease and submerge himself and then again and again, seven times, and while he was under the water 56 The School Of The Prophets on his seventh plunge have held my breath in my anxiety to know if he were actually going to come up pure and clean and well. I have wanted to reach out my hand and help the old general a little as he climbed out upon the banks of Jordan with a radiant face shouting praises to the God of Elisha who had power to cleanse and save. Jay Gwaltney could play upon all the seven strings of the human heart and bring music from every one of them. The chords that had lain buried would vibrate once more under the spell of his eloquence and the power of his appeal. I have heard some of the world's great preachers and speakers. It has been my pleasure to read some of the world's greatest sermons and, while I do not pre- tend to be a capable judge, I feel that I at least have a right to make comparisons and form my own per- sonal opinions. Personally, and with no desire what- ever to exaggerate or to use terms of extravagance simply to carry out the supposed purpose of biography, I think Jay Gwaltney was one of the great preachers of our time. And the fact that he lived and died in the rural districts, serving poor country churches and was known only as a country preacher in no way what- ever alters or affects my opinion. Whoever has re- garded him as an ordinary preacher of the common- place type is either utterly incapable of discerning the qualities of a genius or else he has never heard him preach. Sylvester Home, a great English preacher and lecturer, once said, "To speak to men of God is a high privilege, but there is perhaps one higher : it is to J. P. GWALTNEY 57 speak to God for men". I am not so sure but that often the real character and ability and spiritual power of a man are more easily discoverable when he is at a throne of grace than when he is in the pulpit. Not every man, by any means, is endowed with power and ability in public prayer, not even every good man, no, not even every good preacher. It is a pity our prayers are so formal and strained and often unreal. J. P. Gwaltney was as powerful and as eloquent in prayer as he was in the pulpit. The s.tory is told of Horace Bushnell who, suffer- ing from an incurable disease, was sent by his phy- sician to the White Mountains with the hope of pro- longing his days. Here he spent the last six months of his life and while there Joseph Twitchell (Mark Twain's pastor) went to visit him. As they sat and talked in the still hours of the night under the stars, one of them suggested that they ought to pray. Twit- chell asked Bushnell to lead the prayer and he began by burying his face in the grass and Twitchell says, in relating the incident, "So powerful was that prayer, and so real, that I became afraid to put my hand out into the dark lest I touch God". Who can ever forget those soul stirring appeals of J. P. Gwaltney in the revival meetings when souls were being saved and others were lingering on the bor- der line? I have felt sometimes as Jay Gwaltney led the prayer for converting power in those great old spiritual revivals as if he were knocking at the very portals of heaven. He was "carried away in the Spir- it" to the very mountain top of supplicating eloquence. There was no hysterical shouting; no grasping after the correct word, no attempt at word painting; but an 58 The School Of The Prophets earnest appeal that never could have been mistaken for affectation. Surely no one who has ever lingered within earshot of those appeals can say, either now or at the judgment, that he has not felt the moving in- fluence of the Spirit upon his conscience to lead him to a higher life. Often he would rise from prayer with a song, us- ually some familiar hymn such as "What Wondrous Love Is This", or "Save, Mighty Lord" and when the congregation would join in to carry the song he would make a personnal appeal to the lost. How many times I have beheld the marvelous effect of the power of God as he wrought salvation among the people with whom J. P. Gwaltney had labored. Yes, Jay Gwaltney was a great preacher. He pos- sessed the apostolic zeal, the spirit of humble, sacri- ficial service and an unwavering faith. He was hon- ored with a marked degree of success principally be- cause, as I believe, he was endowed with a double por- tion of God-fearing and God-honoring humility. Few men have lived in this country with a more ardent desire for the salvation of the lost or a more abound- ing capacity for becoming all things to all men in order that men might be saved. Jay Gwaltney lived to a great old age. He was blessed with strength sufficient to enable him to serve a wide field. His labors, brought him into intimate relationship with a very large circle of people in al- most every walk of life, and few men had more loyal friends. He reared a large family most of whom are living. As has been previously stated his first wife was Miss Minnie Milholland and to them were born J. P. GWALTNEY 59 three sons, Thomas, Charles and Santford. He was married a second time to Miss Mattie Steele, daughter of Robert Steele, and to them were born two children, Vella and Howell. The third wife was Miss Anna Tevypaugh, daughter of John Tevypaugh, and to them were born the following children : Laura, Lola, Elsie, Jay, Jr., Jeffie and Otha, and Minnie who died when a small girl. VII UNCLE JAY, THE AGED There comes in the life of every preacher who reaches a ripe old age a time of loneliness, a sort of semi-melancholy, if there can be such thing, when he begins to live largely in the past. There is probably no feeling quite so depressing as that which comes with the realization that one's fighting days are over. And there is no class of men, perhaps, to whom this realization comes with more depressing effect than to the minister of the gospel. He feels that he has been laid on the shelf, so to speak, and that younger blood is demanded to take his place. He realizes that his physical powers and usually his mental powers have lost in the race with time and suffered defeat in the battle with toil and that he is no longer sustained by the renewing vigor of the days that are gone. He feels that he is no longer able to cope with the strain involved in carrying on his work and, despite eternal hope, he feels that the world has begun to lose interest in him. As an expression of the feelings of an old preacher who has realized that old age has crept upon him I 60 The School Of The Prophets am giving here a letter written by Uncle Jay Gwaltney in the Spring of 1925 and published in a local paper, addressed to his brethren with whom he had labored. "Dear Brethren : This has been a long, lonesome winter to me. I have been serving churches for fifty years and it is hard to give up the work and to cease meeting with the brethren and hearing the sweet songs of Zion. I am not sick, but am very lonesome. I think the brethren ought to come to see me. "I was walking out in the yard the other day and found an old gun barrel — an old London barrel. I had killed several turkeys with it many years ago, and I said, 'I am like this old gun barrel; can't be used any more'. Again I was walking in the yard and found an old plow. It had been made in a blacksmith shop, prob- ably fifty years ago. And I said, 'I am like this old plow, a back number — out of date'. "So I am admonished by the great many things I see that the day of life is far spent ; that the sun is sinking low in the west and that the shadows are growing long on the hillside. But I hope the sun will set in a clear sky and, therefore, I say to the breth- ren whose heads are growing white like my own, 'Cheer up', there is a great meeting just ahead of us. It will be opened with praise and thanksgiving; for there will be no prayers offered there. And the meet- ing will never adjourn. Then we shall sing as we have never sung before, "What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul'. "Poor sinner, I earnestly and affectionately en- treat you, get ready and go with us to that great meet- ing". J. P. GWALTNEY 61 It is indeed, a pathetic and trying period in the life of a preacher when he must forego the pleasure of filling his appointments and meeting with the brethren in the work of the kingdom. But happy is the preacher who is able to come up to it ripened and sweetened and mellowed in temper and spirit so as to gracefully and gallantly accept it with no bitter feelings; void of jealousy and envy toward those who take his place in the ranks out of which he has fallen. Uncle Jay came up to this period in life with these happy qualities. Not that he had escaped the physical infirmities and mental uncertainties incident to old age ; but that despite both of these, he had retained, to a remarkable degree, his former spirit of good cheer, his unfailing love for the brethren, his deep and abiding interest in the work of the churches and, above all his yearning passion for the lost. And this last, let it be said, preeminent and predominant in his whole ministerial career, never weakened to the very last conscious day on earth. His whole life was spent, after he entered the min- istry, in a most unselfish and untiring effort to lead men to Christ. And as the years multiplied this pas- sion grew in so much that it may be truly said that the entreaties of the aged man were as tender and loving as they were powerful and persistent in the more vigorous years of his ministry. Uncle Jay retained a marked degree of "freedom" in the delivery of his message, being able to hold his thoughts together in a logical, orderly way, even after the physical man was shaken with the infirmities of age and disease. I have heard him preach when he 62 The School Of The Prophets was too infirm to stand in the pulpit and was com- pelled to sit in a chair or on a table while delivering his sermon. And to save my life I could not figure out how the spirit of the man could so overcome the infirmities of the flesh. For he would announce a text, divide his discourse into its logical and Scriptural headings, take up each thought in its proper place and develop it; driving to the conclusion with mounting eloquence and fervor to the end without losing a sin- gle thread of the thought or becoming the least con- fused in the arrangement. We poor preachers, in this day, seem to think we are terribly imposed upon if an extra service is im- posed upon us. And if we have already spoken twice in a single day we politely excuse ourselves from fur- ther duty on the grounds that we are tired. We stand in bold contrast in this, as in many other things, with the pioneer preacher of other days who thought it a great privilege to preach four or five times in a day and thanked God for thus honoring him. I am reminded of the history of John Knox, not only in his younger days but when he was sick and infirm as he went about preaching many times in the day. A man by the name of James Melvill who lived in the days of Knox went to hear him preach and wrote some interesting impressions in his diary con- cerning the man and his message. When Knox went to St. Andrews to preach Melvill was there (1571) and among the things noted in the diary we find the following: "When Knox came to St. Andrews he was so ill and weak he had to be helped into the pulpit where he behoved to lean at his first entrie; but ere he was done with his sermon he was so vigorous and J. P. GWALTNEY 63 active that he was like to ding (beat) the pulpit into blades (pieces) and fly out of it". Once upon a time Uncle Jay Gwaltney had occa- sion to lovingly admonish the writer to be patient under trials and declared that he had learned to be actually grateful for all the humiliating experiences of his life, although some of them had been so harsh and sharp as to cut to the quick for the time being. He had learned, he said, to lay up such trials as a kind of a savings account from which to draw for future strength. In driving home the fact that even persecu- tion was not without value he related the following experience : He was pastor of the church at Dudley Shoals soon after he entered the ministry and, being without expe- rience in the work, was not always prepared for any kind of circumstance that might arise. It was, I be- lieve, in the year 1875 or 1876. At any rate it was the year of the grievous drought in that part of the country. The crops were parching up and the streams had run low. At one of the Saturday meetings some brother suggested that they should pray for rain and Uncle Jay was asked to lead the prayer. He did so, and be- sought the Lord with earnest supplication to send the refreshing showers to revive the parched earth. When the prayer was finished a good brother arose and requested that he be allowed to speak and the fol- lowing is the substance of what he had to say : "Breth- ren, there are certain natural laws which govern the condition of the weather. These laws must act in such a way as to produce certain climatic or atmospheric 64 The School Of The Prophets changes before it could possibly rain. Now what I wish to say is this, if I had no more sense than to pray for rain I would be ashamed to let the Lord know it". Gwaltney was so hurt and so humiliated that he offered his resignation as pastor of the church and, although it was not the wish of the church for him to do so, he left the work and did not return for seve- ral years. But to finish this part of the story : before the people reached home that afternoon there arose a cloud in the sky, the size of a man's hand and soon the heavens were black with clouds and the rain came down in torrents, making glad the hearts of those who tilled the soil, notwithstanding many of them got a thorough soaking before they reached shelter. It is presumed that certain "climatic changes" had taken place and that the prayers of the pastor and people had thus been answered. This story has a pathetic conclusion. Several years later this good brother sent for Uncle Jay to come to his home. His wife and daughter had been stricken with a malignant fever which had become a terrible scourge in that section that year and had taken many people away. He went to the home and was welcomed by the brother who had so scathingly rebuked him be- cause he had prayed for rain. He was asked to go into the sick room and to pray for those who had been stricken with the fever. Of course he went and prayed for them to be restored to health with all his charac- teristic fervor. But it was not the will of Providence that the prayer should be answered ; for the wife and daughter were sick unto death. J. P. GWALTNEY 65 The brother called the preacher to one side and, with tears in his eyes, begged forgiveness for his rude- ness at the Saturday meeting and declared that his mind had undergone a radical change on the subject of God's dealings with His creatures here below. Uncle Jay, after relating this incident, said, with a twinkle in his eye, "I have a good notion to tell you the sequel to this story". And he did. A few years later this brother decided to take unto himself another helpmate. He informed Uncle Jay of his intentions and requested him to remember him in prayer that he might be divinely directed in the selection of a life partner. And later, after he had succeeded in such selection, he called upon Uncle Jay to say the words that would bind them together in the sacred bonds. Some of the individual members of the churches served by Uncle Jay were liberal in their support of the pastor and a few churches were counted liberal. But for the most part his salary was small indeed. Many times he has served a church a whole year with nothing to show for it of a temporal nature but, per- haps a few dimes in money and possibly some small gifts in the way of food. But he went bravely on, bat- tling against hardships and discouragements, always cheerful and radiant and hopeful. He owned a good little farm from which he could produce considerable grain and upon which he could raise hogs and cows with the guarantee of "hog and hominy" whether his churches gave him anything for his services or not. And this may have had something to do with his op- timistic outlook for all I know. Uncle Jay told me once how he served a church a year and received by way of a stipend the sum total 66 The School Of The Prophets of one nickel and one louse. If he told me what church it was I do not recall it. I presume he appreciated the nickel, although I do not recall his paying a glowing tribute to the memory of the louse. It is only fair, however, to say that in later years when the general run of rural people had become more prosperous the churches helped him in a material way much better. But for many years, as long as he was actively engaged in the service, he rode through cold and heat, over rough roads for many miles to bury the dead, to visit the sick, to unite the young in mar- riage, to labor in revivals, to ordain preachers and deacons and to organize churches, for the most part, at his own expense. But he never complained and always rendered any service he could, cheerfully and gladly. It was a great pleasure to visit in his home. He never did know any better than to throw his home open to his friends and to make everyone happy and comfortable. He seemed to grow more, rather than less, hospitable as he advanced in years. During the winter of 1931-32 he was confined to his room and a portion of the time to his bed, but he was never too feeble to do his best to make visitors feel welcome. He became so ill that the doctor believed the end was near and was perplexed to know what mysterious power enabled him to cling on to life. I went to see him on the fifth Sunday in August, 1931, and found him sitting by the fire, the weather being chill and damp. And to my astonishment he had been studying a sermon and had arranged an outline, although he knew he would never need it before an audience. He quoted the text and gave me the points J. P. GWALTNEY 67 in the outline, then proceeded to enlarge upon the thoughts and to develop each line of argument to the climax and, of course he could not close a sermon without an appeal to the lost. He seemed to be as much interested in the discourse as if he were going to use it the next Sunday before a large audience. His mind was clear and the arrangement was entirely in keeping with the meaning of the text, it seemed to me. But when I returned to the home on the fifth Sun- day in November I found him very feeble indeed. His hearing was so defective it was impossible to converse with him. I requested some member of the family, to whose voice he would respond, to ask him a few questions, all of which he answered in that same cheerful way and with the same good sound sense that had always characterized him. The only defect discoverable in his mind was that he could think only slowly. I thought he was thinking clearly. He called me to his bed and reminded me, in a very feeble voice, of an agreement between him and myself made some ten years before, to the effect that if he died first I was to say the last rites when they laid him to rest; and that if I should die first he was to have charge of my funeral service. He spoke of these solemn things with as much complacency as if he were only contemplating a short journey to the home of a neighbor. On the seventh day of April, 1932, the "chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof" swung low over the old home and parted him asunder from his loved ones and they saw him no more. His last day on earth was the closing out of a wonderfully active, useful and lova- ble life. His "sun set in a clear sky" and he began the 68 The School Of The Prophets life in the land of light where "the meetings never ad- journ and the Sabbaths never end". He had reached the ripe old age of ninety-two years, one month, nine- teen days. His body was laid to rest at Linney's Grove Bap- tist Church on April 8, 1932. He had been largely in- strumental in organizing the church and had served as its pastor for a number of years. A great many people from all parts of the surrounding country came to pay their respects to the greatly beloved preacher and neighbor. The writer, according to agreement, read a portion of Scripture and quoted for a text the twelfth verse of the second chapter of Second Kings. The following ministers were present, some of whom offered some remarks relative to his life and work : J. W. Watts, Atwell Watts, R. L. Davis, E. V. Bumgarner, C. C. Holland, Grady White, the pastor; L. E. Barnes, V. M. Swain and D. W. Poole. He was laid to rest with Mas<onic honors, led by Mr. A. C. Payne, of Taylorsville. LEROY PARKS GWALTNEY Rev. L. Parks Gwaltney VIII LEROY PARKS GWALTNEY Although there seems to have been scant record made of the families who came from across the sea to seek home and fortune in the new world, we know that the Gwaltneys came to America before the Revo- lutionary War and that they were of Welch stock. The first Gwaltney about whom I have been able to learn anything definite is John Gwaltney, I. He had three sons, Robert, Nathan, and William Gaither. Leroy Parks Gwaltney was a son of James Gwalt- ney who was a son of William Gaither Gwaltney, the son of John Gwaltney. He was born near Vashti, N. C., in Alexander County, Gwaltney's Township, November 3, 1848. The Gwaltneys were a law-abiding and dependable people, always affiliated with the work of the church as far back as the name can be traced. They were characterized by a friendly, neighborly disposition. His mother was Rinda Stephenson, or as some- times spelled, Stevenson, daughter of Martin Steven- son, known locally as "Grancer Martin" Stevenson. The following sketch is from the pen of Mr. J. Adley D. Stevenson and will give a good idea of the Steven- son line from which "Grancer Martin" came : "Although our fathers came from Belfast, Ireland, they were doubtless originally from Scotland, as. they were all Presbyterians. James Stevenson, my great (71) 72 The School Of The Prophets grandfather, was born in Belfast, Ireland. He was full six feet tall and a man of fine form. His early life was spent in the English navy. When he came to America he settled on the eastern s.hores of Maryland where he married Sally Kelley, a lady of Irish par- entage. He remained in Maryland about ten years and then about 1755 or 1760 he came to North Caro- lina, and settled on the head waters of the upper val- ley of the South Yadkin River in Alexander County. "Here he entered 640 acres of land, the full amount allowed by the government. He made a fine selection ; the land was very fertile and the surrounding moun- tains furnished fine range for grazing. He found ready sale for the surplus products of the farm and stock as emigrants were constantly coming in and settling around him, most of whom had sold out and moved from other states and brought but little with them except the cash they had received for such sale. He invested most of his. money in the purchase of negro slaves. He died in 1820, being ninety-nine years and nine months of age. My grandmother died a few months later. "They had eight children : six daughters and two sons. Mary married John Arrington, Jane married John Burton, Sarah married David Millican, Nancy married William Lackey, Annie married George Lack- ey, and Mollie married Thomas Lackey." Doubtless Mr. Stevenson could have given more of the family history, but the following I have learned from other authentic sources : James Stevenson, known locally as "Revolutionary Stevenson", sleeps, in the old Vashti graveyard over- Leroy Parks Gwaltney 73 looking the South Yadkin river. His son, James, II, married Rebecca Bowles and settled on the Stevenson estate. He was the father of Martin Luther Steven- son (Grancer Stevenson), the father of Rinda Ste- venson Gwaltney, mother of Leroy Parks. Gwaltney. After the death of James Gwaltney, the father of Parks Gwaltney, Mrs. Gwaltney married William Ba- ker, and to them were born three sons, James F., J. Van and Robert Lee. Parks Gwaltney had only one brother, John L., a practicing attorney, living in Tay- lorsville, a highly respected citizen, an able lawyer and an active Christian worker. There were, also, the following sis.ters : Flora, who married W. C. Beck- ham ; May, who married Judson Greens ; Emma, who was accidentally killed when a girl by a sword in the hands of a neighbor, and Sarah Evalin who married Watson Lackey. After his marriage to Miss Mattie Hines, daugh- ter of Benny Hines who lived near Sulphur Springs, he moved to the old homestead near Vashti where he spent the major part of his active life as a minister of the gospel. He later moved to Stony Point where he was pastor of the Baptist church and, a few years thereafter, moved to Taylorsville where he spent the remainder of his life. Mr. and Mrs. Gwaltney reared a family of seven children ; five girls and two boys : Grace, Robert, Jen- nie, Lizzie, who died when a child ; Pearl, Emma Lee, and Leroy Parks, Jr. Gwaltney delighted in the freedom and ease of ru- ral life. He liked to live on the farm where he could have quiet and he was happy and contented in the 74 The School Of The Prophets pursuit of his studies. He also took pleasure in farm- ing and would don his overalls and go into the field to work at whatever came to hand, whether it was to "pull fodder" or to dig a ditch. The period following the Civil War, just as in the periods following all wars, was characterized by a great falling away among the young people in moral standards and in spiritual stamina. War hardens men, strange as it may seem, instead of making men better. The spirit of the times following war seems to hold men in a grip of wild and reckless abandon. L. P. Gwaltney, as a boy in the days which followed the War Between the States, was not immune to the spirit of the times. He fell in with young men of his own age who were of the dare-devil type and who soon be- gan to make things uncomfortable in the community. They took to drink and to the sins incident to drink. He was too young to enter the service of the Sou- thern Confederacy in the war, being only in his early teens, but being full of the spirit of adventure and craving excitement, he joined the Home Guard and rode the mountains and forests in search of deserters. He carried a long barreled gun of the old musket type and could use it like a seasoned warrior. Not many years before his death he pointed out to me the spot near the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain where his Company "flushed" a group of "bushwhackers" just as day was breaking across the eastern slopes of the Brushies. The Home Guard had silently stalked the place and were almost upon the deserters before they were aware of their presence. The bushwhackers ran for the mountains while the guard pursued with guns banging and bullets whizzing. Gwaltney said Leroy Parks Gwaltney 75 he sighted a man running toward a clump of trees and noted that he was in his shirt sleeves. He noticed also, that his suspenders were crossed between his s.houlder blades. All this he observed in the excite- ment of a few seconds and it was upon the crossed suspenders he deliberately drew a bead with the long gun and squeezed the trigger. "Snap!" That was all he heard. For some unknown reason the gun failed to fire. He said it had never been known to fail be- fore. Of course the man made his way in a few jumps to safety behind the sheltering trees. Gwaltney ex- pressed his deep feelings of gratitude, as he pointed out the spot, that he was thus spared the guilt and consequent troubled conscience for taking human life, even under the sanction of military law. A few years later he, in company with some other young men, all, perhaps, under the influence of liquor, went by the home of an old lady who lived alone. They did not wish to do her any injury, but they de- cided to have some fun at her expense and began run- ning around her cabin, emitting wild yells like Indians on the warpath and finally ran by the door and kicked it down. The old lady left home and reported the mat- ter to the "law" and the boys were soon being rounded up. They were hailed before the court to answer the charge of various, and sundry crimes and misdemea- nors of more or less serious nature. Judge Mitchell was on the bench when the trial was called. R. Z. Linney and Marshall Clemmons, then young lawyers, volunteered to defend the boys, made a mighty plea for them and got them off with a fine. The venerable old judge gave them a lecture from the bench, telling them how they could make 76 The School Of The Prophets useful men if they would leave off the use of whiskey and settle down to the task of living the serious life of a good citizen. The words of wisdom found a place in young Gwaltney's heart. Not long afterward he at- tended a meeting at Pleasant Hill and there became concerned about his spiritual well being and before the meeting closed surrendered his life to Christ. Soon thereafter he united with the Baptist church at Bethel. The harrowing court experience with the kindly ad- vice and wise counsel of the judge was the cause, in part at least, for the turning point in his life. Long years afterward, when his hair was white like the snow, I heard Parks Gwaltney deliver one of ilia finest tributes I have ever heard paid to any man at the funeral of Col. R. Z. Linney who had pled at the bar for him in his youth. I wondered if either of them thought then of a long friendship of the tender- est kind which should grow up between them in after years. Gwaltney, in speaking at the grave of Linney, used as a text the words of David when he mourned the death of Jonathan : "I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan ; very pleasant hast thou been unto me ; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women". Gwaltney once related the following incident which also had much to do with his subsequent reformation : He was walking along the road which leads around the foot of the Rocky Face Mountain and, coming to a gate across the road, he observed the approach of the Sheriff of the County, Sheriff Welborn Mays. Gwaltney, then a wild youth, upon seeing Mays about to alight from the horse to open the gate, hurried for- ward and opened it himself; then when the Sheriff Leroy Parks Gwaltney 77 had ridden through he closed the gate and was about to go on his way when the Sheriff accosted him, placed his hand on the young man's shoulder and said, "Parks., I thank you. That was very kind". Then he added in the most fatherly way, "Parks, you have the making of a man in you. Why don't you leave off this folly about which I hear and give your energies to some- thing worth while? You can if you will, and if there is anything in the world I can do to help you I shall gladly do it". The old Sheriff turned and rode away, but his kind words, stayed in the heart of the boy. They remained there as long as he lived and he always remembered that day as one of the stepping stones to higher and better things. During all these years, despite the recklessness of his life, his alertness of mind, his power to lay hold upon things with an intellectual grasp and store them away ; his ability to call them up without a moment's, hesitation for immediate use was not only unusual but of an extraordinary kind. This power he retained all the way through life and it was this, in no small degree, at least, that made him an expert in gathering facts from all sources, very few of which he ever al- lowed to slip his memory. It was a great day for him when he attended his first public school. He had reached the age of six and for weeks he had thought and talked only of the school. And when the day finally arrived he gathered his books and lunch and ran all the way to the school house. When he arrived "books" had been called, but he hurried in, took off his hat, and walking briskly down to the front exclaimed in a childish, piping voice filled with enthusiasm, "Well, I have come". 78 The School Of The Prophets He attended this school and the following sessions, completing the work offered in the free schools, and entered the high school at Cedar Run, now Vashti, and later the school at Sulphur Springs, taught by W. A. Poole, and when this course was completed he entered Wake Forest College. He was a good student and was making fine progress in college when his eye- sight began to fail and he was compelled to abandon the course after the completion of one year. Gwaltney's ability to retain facts was probably never surpassed by any other man in our time. When a lad he could attend a meeting or debating society and then, in company with his playmates, he could repeat, almost without the omission of a word, the speech or sermon he had heard. And what was more annoying to the elders of his day as well as amusing to the young folks, he could imitate the voice and copy the style of the speaker in an alarmingly distressing manner. In the Spring of 1865 after Stoneman had marched down the Yadkin valley, leaving bleak desolation in his path, two men, Wade and Simmons, deserters, from the Stoneman army, took up headquarters on the north bank of the Yadkin River, just east of where Lewis Fork enters the Yadkin near Holman's Ford. They oc- cupied a large, two-story log house, owned by some Hamby women. It stood on a high hill overlooking the valleys of both the Yadkin River and Lewis Fork, from which point these robbers could sweep the en- tire countryside with their guns. They cut portholes in the logs and stationed themselves so securely with- in that the place became known as "Fort Hamby." Here Wade and Simmons gathered about them a group Leroy Parks Gwaltney 79 of other deserters and bushwhackers from which they formed a band of marauders as ruthless and cruel as ever lived in this country. Simmons later moved his part of the gang over to another point on the Brushy Mountains, leaving Wade in charge at Fort Hamby. Wade claimed to be from Michigan. From Fort Hamby, Wade and his men operated through Wilkes and Alexander and Caldwell Counties, robbing and plundering as they went. Just for prac- tice, with a high powered rifle they killed a woman as she was riding across Holman's Ford in a wagon. After one of their raids in Caldwell County they were followed to the fort by a group of returned Southern soldiers, led by Major Harvey Bingham, but they were defeated and left two of their number dead on the grounds near the fort, a young man by the name of Henley and another named Clark. After a raid in Alexander County where the rob- bers attempted to rob the home of Rev. John Greene, a number of soldiers from Alexander formed a com- pany and followed them. Among them were two young men, Jones Brown, son of Billie Brown, and James Linney, son of Dr. Copeland Linney, who were little more than lads. Neither of them returned. They were shot from the fort and their bodies buried near those of Henley and Clark. Later, their bodies, were re- moved to Alexander. Parks Gwaltney, then a young man of not more than fifteen or sixteen years of age, was in this group from Alexander. He and Brown were close friends and had ridden together to the fort. When the firing from the fort became so terrific that the soldiers saw no hope of taking it they withdrew and, as Gwaltney 80 The School Of The Prophets and Brown were crossing the Lewis Fork ford, a bul- let struck Brown in the thigh, severing an artery. He fell from his horse as they reached the bank of the creek. He said to Gwaltney, just before he fell from the saddle, "Parks, I am going to die, and Great God ! I am not ready !" The boys had secured some brandy on the way to the fort and had been drinking. Gwaltney related the following interesting incident: As they were crossing the mountains Jones Brown suddenly became serious and seemed to be much dejected. He turned to Gwalt- ney and said, "I have a feeling that I shall never re- turn over this road alive. I believe I shall be killed", and so saying he drew a bottle of brandy from his pocket and threw it into the bushes, saying, "I shall never drink another drop as long as I live!" Two weeks after this event another group of sol- diers were gathered in Alexander County and one in Caldwell. The group from Alexander was led by Col. Wall Sharpe and the group from Caldwell was led by Rev. Isaac Oxford. They joined forces and marched upon the fort in the early morning hours before the light of day. Col. Wall Sharpe crawled through the brush, entered the kitchen of the fort and struck a match to a straw tick. Soon the kitchen was in a blaze and the robbers came trooping down and surrendered. Wade was among them, but he suddenly made a break for liberty, rolling over and jumping among the soldiers and thus made his escape to the Yadkin River where he dived under the bank and remained hidden till the search for him ended. The remaining robbers were tried, convicted and shot on the hilltop near the fort. My father was in this group from Alexander Leroy Parks Gwaltney 81 County, carrying one arm in a sling from a bullet wound received in the war. I took him and some other old gentlemen to the scene of the conflict some fifty- odd years after it happened. He was able to point out the graves of the soldiers who had died there and the exact spot where the robbers were tied to stakes and shot. He said "Orange" Linney, an old colored slave, accompanied him and carried his gun. When the shooting began my father would lay the gun across Orange's shoulder, and use it as a "rest". Parks Gwaltney once told me of the sad scene at the Brown home when the soldiers came back leading the horse young Brown had ridden. The old gentle- man came to the door when the soldiers rode up to the yard and, seeing the empty and bloody saddle, ex- claimed, "O, my son, my son". Dr. W. R. Gwaltney, in writing of those dark days, says : "The loss of Lin- ney and Brown cast the darkest shadow of gloom and sadness over the whole community". I have related these tragic and yet unavoidable happenings, not that they are not known by the peo- ple who may read this book, but to remind them some- what of the terrible condition into which this country had fallen at the time Parks Gwaltney grew up to manhood. It surely is another instance of how God "works all things together for good" even under the mos.t revolting circumstances, to impress the minds of men with the brevity of human life and the im- portance of employing the swiftly passing years in service to God and His creatures. Before his conversion Parks Gwaltney's keen mind was feeling out for facts and in reading whatever he could lay his hands upon he came in touch with Inger- 82 The School Of The Prophets soil and other skeptic minds. He became perplexed about religious problems and, it was said, became at one time an avowed infidel. It is the opinion of the writer, however, that this pretense was more of a gesture to impress his comrades with his dare-devil superiority over his environment than it was ever a reality. And perhaps, too, he was using this pretense as a shield against impressions that were growing upon him that he should consider the claims of the gospel upon him. At any rate such an attitude is not uncom- mon among young people of that age. Most people, I believe, who are unusually brilliant also have a keen sense of humor. Gwaltney used to relate an incident of his childhood days which was amusing to him as it was to others. He accompanied his mother to church at Bethel when he was a mere child of perhaps five or six years of age. The preacher, whoever he may have been, had a powerful voice and this impressed him very much. But in the course of the sermon the preacher had occasion to refer several times to Jehoshaphat and Gwaltney thought that was the biggest word he had ever heard. He left the ser- vice at its close with the feeling that the preacher must be a powerful preacher to use a word like Jehos- haphat. Once while attending school at Cedar Run, under Prof. J. H. Hill, Gwaltney was sitting near where the professor had hung his overcoat. He observed that there was a torn place in the coat and that some bits of cotton were protruding through the rent. The lon- ger he looked at it the greater grew the temptation to slip a lighted splinter from the open fire and ignite Leroy Parks Gwaltney 83 the cotton in the coat, until finally the temptation over- came him and he stealthily stole a lighted piece of wood from the fire and stuck it to the cotton. At once there was a flare and the blaze began eating into the coat. Then, as if he had just discovered it, he yelled at the top of his voice, "Professor Hill, your overcoat is on fire!" Long years afterward he told Prof. Hill what really happened and the old Professor, who was a great admirer of Gwaltney now, said to him, "I have a grand notion to give you the threshing you deserve, yet". Living on the old plantation where his father and grandfather had lived and died, he was being con- stantly reminded of things that took place in his child- hood days and of stories that had been handed down from one generation to another. He remembered "Big Billie" Stevenson, a great uncle, who seemed to have been his boyhood hero. "Big Billie" owned about a thousand acres of land and was a prominent citizen in his day. He was a man of unusually large physical stature with a voice in keeping with his size, hence his name. He was a man of great natural sense and judgment, but had very little "book learning". Gwaltney remembered him vividly and recalled many of his quaint sayings. On one occasion "Big Billie" came by way of the Gwaltney home from a trip to town to pay his tax. He rode up into the yard and called Parks' father. He seemed to be excited and in his ponderous voice said, "Jim, what do you suppose I had to pay out in taxes today? Three dollars and seventy-five cents!" That was a considerable sum for the State to collect on a thousand acres of land ! 84 The School Of The Prophets On another occasion "Big Billie" rode up to the Gwaltney home and s-aid, "Jim, I just rode over to tell you that I am going to execute a very fine beef tomor- row and I want you to come over and assist me in the extinction of the hide". Among the amusing stories related by Gwaltney was this one : There lived in Alexander County a wo- man by the name of Sally Hendren. For some un- known cause Aunt Sally lost her reason while com- paratively young and regained it when she was past middle life. She lived to be one hundred years, seven months and one day old. Parks Gwaltney preached at the celebration of her hundredth anniversary, using the text, "There shall be no more thence an infant of days; nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die an hundred years old, but the sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be ac- cursed !" — Isaiah 65 :20. It was told as a joke and taken in the best of hu- mor by all the Hendren family, that once when the doctor was examining Aunt Sally, he asked if she had ever received a blow about the head. They replied that they knew of nothing except that once a limb from a tree had struck her, in falling to the ground. Where- upon Aunt Sally retorted, "It must have been a hell of a long limb, for it hit every Hendren by the name". But to the story : Aunt Sally was attending a re- vival meeting at Bethel where an old preacher with long hair and long beard was called upon to lead a prayer. He prayed so long that people began to get restless and to wonder if he were going to pray all day. Finally, after something like a half-hour Aunt Sally suddenly reached out and took hold of a candle Leroy Parks Gwaltney 85 that was burning and stuck the lighted end of it to the old preacher's head, exclaiming, "I am tired of this and I know God-a-mighty is, too !" The preacher said "amen" while extinguishing the blaze. IX HIS EARLY MINISTRY L. P. Gwaltney was of striking personality in his younger days. Strong and muscular of build, black hair and ruddy of face, his eyes were blue and piercing, and when excited or extremely interested, those eyes sparkled like two diamond points. He wore a black beard according to the fashion of his day and was, withal, a fine specimen of manhood. His voice was clear and expressive. I have thought that if he had possessed but one outstanding endow- ment — that of his voice — it would have set him apart from the ordinary public speaker in a degree sufficient to have compensated for almost any other deficiency. Whether he spoke in the soft conversational tone or raised his voice to its highest pitch it was as clear and musical as a silver bell. It also had that rare carry- ing power which enabled his hearers to gather every word both when speaking in a low tone and when he lifted his voice to the skies to come down like a mighty avalanche upon an audience. A former editor of The Greensboro Daily News, in writing of L. P. Gwaltney, many years ago, spoke of him as a "machine gun preacher". Whether the term is appropriate or not, one could not hear him speak without some such association. He was truly a "min- 86 The School Of The Prophets ute man". He is quoted as saying that if he had to be executed he would want it done at once and have it over with. It was his nature to spring into action like an electric shock. When he stood before an audience to speak, his thoughts came rushing in so fast and fu- riously he had to hurl them out, so to speak, in order to give room for others which were clamoring for ex- pression. Yet, contrary to what this description might seem to imply, he was not of the erratic, emotional type at all. He never "yelled" at the wrong time or place nor shouted himself hoarse from excitement. On the con- trary, he stood practically still, gestured only in a nat- ural and expressive way, followed the line of thought in hand in a clear, logical and convincing manner and did it as very few men who have ever lived in this country could do it. I have no sermon of his to include in this sketch. He never wrote one, so far as I know. I shall not at- tempt to put down on paper what Parks Gwaltney was like when in action before an audience. He talked rather swiftly, but perhaps not too swiftly — for him; and one must think swiftly to keep pace with his thoughts. Those only who have heard him and felt the power of his personality and the depths of his sincerity can ever have anything like an adequate idea of Parks Gwaltney in the pulpit. What one felt as he sat before him and heard him can never be conveyed from one person to another by the use of descriptive words. It was the fourth Sunday in May, 1870, at Bethel, his home church. Parks Gwaltney was to make his initial effort in the pulpit that day. A great crowd Leroy Parks Gwaltney 87 had assembled, including a number of preachers. The hour of eleven was approaching and with fear and trembling the young man of twenty-two years arose and read the third verse of the first chapter of Na- hum : "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet". I have wondered if the words, "whirlwind" and "storm" had anything to do with his selection of the text! He spoke only fifteen or twenty minutes, but he had taken away the breath of his audience by saying more in those minutes than they were accustomed to hear in an hour. He had spoken with such power and had moved so swiftly that the people were slow to realize that the sermon was over. Then happened a strange thing : every one in the house felt that Gwalt- ney had far exceeded anything they had ever heard as an initial effort except Gwaltney himself. He felt that he had made a miserable failure and as he left the pul- pit he vowed that he would never try it again. He was so humiliated and ashamed that he actually slid out at a window and when the people came down to con- gratulate him he was gone. He had made a bee line for the woods. But whatever had been his own feelings, he had profoundly impressed the people with his ability. He soon found himself besieged by surrounding churches for appointments and in demand for pastorates and re- vival work throughout the whole section of the country. Referring to the text in Nahum, I find in a diary kept by Mr. Gwaltney the following notation, made in 88 The School Of The Prophets 1910' upon his return from an appointment at Lile- down on the fourth Sunday in May: "Fortieth an- niversary of my ministry. Very solemn day. Talked from my first text, Nahum, 1 :3. Solemn time to me". Among the churches served as pastor by Mr. Gwalt- ney in his early ministry may be named the follow- ing: Grassy Knob, Walnut Grove, Cub Creek, Sulphur Springs, Three Forks, Bethel and Taylor Springs. La- ter in life he served other fields including the church at Stony Point, Wilkesboro, Taylorsville, and Liledown. Gwaltney became popular almost overnight after his first sermon. He was soon recognized as one of the leading preachers of his generation in this part of the country, and was in great demand as a speaker at district Associations and other special assemblies. He began at once a systematic study of the Scriptures and as the years rolled on he became more and more an earnest seeker after the mind of the Spirit as it is recorded in the word of God. I would not think of laying a claim to any ability to judge the merits of men, yet I have a right, I believe, to my personal opin- ion : and I am quite sure that no man ever lived in our state who had a deeper grasp upon the great truths of the Bible than Parks Gwaltney. Some thought of him as a sort of intellectual freak, or at least a genius, who could speak without prepara- tion and learn without labor ; but those who were as- sociated with him most intimately knew that he was a most zealous and ardent worker. He was a student first and last and what appeared to be natural, as the result of a gift was in reality the fruitage of the most constant and arduous toil. True, he did possess the Leroy Parks Gwaltney 89 ability to store away facts and to recall them for use at a moment's notice, in a very remarkable degree; but it should not be forgotten that he had to sweat to secure those facts. Mr. Gwaltney became so popular as a public speak- er that some, who, of course, could not know any better, were afraid he might be spoiled. You know, ladies and gentlemen, that many young men and for all I know, women, too, have been "teetotally ruint" just by a little flattery. I have always felt that in such cases there was a tap loose somewhere to start with, but it is a pity, nevertheless. Once Gwaltney was to preach at Taylor Springs and in the devotional service an old brother prayed, "Lord, grant thy power to the preacher to preach. We do not desire popularity for him, but power; for he already has enough popularity to ruin any man !" Hum- erous as the incident may have been, the old brother was not far from the right track as pertains to the average poor mortal man. But Parks Gwaltney had too much good sense and was too humble and reverent, and too entirely dependent upon a Higher Power to be affected by a little praise from men. Many of Gwaltney's friends felt that he should have availed himself of the many opportunities offered for a larger field of labor. He could have entered the evan- gelistic field and, as I most certainly believe, placed his name along beside those of Spurgeon, Torrey, or Gypsy Smith, with the advantage over them all in the fact that none of them was as eloquent as he. He had multiplied opportunities to have accepted the care of large churches where the salary would have 90 The School Of The Prophets been ample and where he could have devoted more time to study and at the same time avoided the hard- ships incident to the life of a rural preacher. As many of his admirers pointed out, he could have achieved more for himself as well as to have enlarged his field of usefulness. As to this question, why he remained in the seclu- sion of a country pastorate, with a meager compensa- tion which must always be supplemented from his own labor on the farm, the answer is two-fold ; first, he was of an exceedingly timid nature. He never outlived that impulse that thrust him through a window and out into the wood after his first effort at Bethel. He was afraid of the city; and in the second place he loved the country people and the country churches with all the ardor of his being. They were his people, his neighbors, and they loved him. Why should he leave them and go among strangers to face the unknown and uncertain relationship with gloomy forebodings of a "drifting preacher, the product of a capricious pulpit committee". Speaking from the viewpoint of those who were his neighbors and who lived within the radius of his travels I feel that his choice was a wise one. He was happy and contented among his own people which means more than money or the things money will buy. And, on the other hand, who can tell about the influence of his ministry and life? Surely few rural communi- ties are blessed with the service of so great and good a man as he. Who can ever know how many lives have been inspired and spurred to active determination who might have been content to drift along with the cur- rent of the commonplace? Leroy Parks Gwaltney 91 One can hardly imagine a more happy condition in rural church life than for each group of churches to be guided by a hand so skilful and instructed by a teacher so wise as L. P. Gwaltney. Think of being able to attend the service of a small country church each appointed day from year to year and sit at the feet of a man equal in most respect and superior in a great many to the preachers who fill the great metropolitan pulpits ! Yet that is exactly what many of my own neighbors enjoyed for more than fifty years. X L. P. GWALTNEY, THE PREACHER Just what are the elements of greatness in a preacher? What are those qualities and attainments that set him apart and designate him as great? Re- quirements generally prescribed, of course, are per- sonality, learning, sincerity, wisdom, ability to hold the attention and drive home conviction ; originality, poise, discretion, and, as Andy would say, all that stuff. But in a final analysis is it not a fact that, to every one of us, the great preacher is he who most nearly fulfills our own personal ideal? The preacher who appeals to us most is to us a great preacher, and very few of us ever stop to inquire whether he has or has not any of the prescribed qualifications. And, after all, might not a wooden Indian have a high standing when measured by these requirements? It may be because Parks Gwaltney was my near neighbor in my childhood days and that I was asso- ciated with him all my life and knew him in his every- day life, and in his character at close range he became 92 The School Of The Prophets my ideal preacher, or it may be that, because he so nearly fulfilled my preconceived conception of what a preacher should be he appealed to me more powerfully, perhaps, than any other man whom I have ever known, at least any other preacher. But whatever the reason for my personal convic- tion, I am going to say that, of all the preachers whom I have ever heard, Parks Gwaltney was the greatest. I say this, too, after mature deliberation and in the face of the fact that it has been my pleasure to hear some of the world's outstanding divines. To begin with, he had a most masterly grasp upon the Word of God. Few men, indeed, within my knowl- edge had delved as deeply into the great mines of golden truth as he. The Bible to him was first in value and importance. It was God's voice, a "conscript of His will and a revelation of His character". He sought persistently but very reverently to know the mind of God as it is recorded in the Word. He sought the aid of great Bible scholars, was a close student and read with care as well as discrimination. He rarely ever forgot what he read and as a result his mind became a great storehouse, orderly arranged and easily acces- sible at all times. He had, when a young man, determined to make his mind serve him, and so through the years he con- tinued to demand of it a ready and efficient service. I heard him say privately to a friend that when he was in the prime of his mature manhood he could ar- range an outline, divide it into its subordinate heads and then stand in the pulpit and see every division and every sub-division of the arrangement clear to Leroy Parks Gwaltney 93 the end of the discourse at one time, just as one looks down a long, straight, open road. He never used notes or manuscript. His. mind worked with the precision of an engine and with the velocity of a flash of light. His speech was clear but swift and one must think fast to stay in line with his thought. His. vocabulary was large while his ability to select from it the exact word most nearly expres- sive of his thought and at the same time most eupho- nious made him a most pleasing speaker. Dr. B. H. Carroll speaking before a body of Texas preachers described the ungainly appearance of that prince of Welch preachers, Christmas. Evans, with a short leg and but one eye, added, "But 0, my soul, how that man could preach! Gentlemen! Gentlemen! I would rather be able to preach to lost souls like Christmas Evans could preach than to be the author of every speculative vagary since Epicurus died, and all the flimsy higher criticism that ever evidenced a pal- sied grasp of faith". Dr. Carroll's words very aptly express my own feeling with reference to L. P. Gwaltney as a preacher. How often have I felt while listening to that most remarkable man preach that I had rather be able to speak with the power and unction accompanying his ministry than to own all the wealth of the world or to command all the armies of the world. Gwaltney's power was evidenced when he arose to speak, even before he uttered a word. An effect which no one can describe or account for was produced in an audience by his personality, or his presence or the fact that he was about to speak. I have attended district meetings 94 The School Of The Prophets where numerous speakers were present and where the subjects under discussion required long hours. I have observed the weary expression on the faces of the tired and restless crowd and understood what produced it. Then I have seen Parks Gwaltney quietly and, as a rule, reluctantly, arise to speak. I cannot describe the transformation that took place in the audience. I only know that it did take place and that a tired, in- different crowd suddenly became wide-awake, eager, expectant. I do not know what it was, or where it came from. One had to be present to feel and to see the thing I am writing about. Before he had finished speaking men who, a little while ago, were tired to the point of rebellion and rudeness found themselves leaning forward in their seats eager to hear every word and afraid to move lest they miss some part of the discourse. Some years ago I was standing in the church yard at Zion down in the corner of Iredell County talking with some elderly men who remembered Gwaltney in his younger, more vigorous days. They told me of a meeting they attended there and related the following incident : Gwaltney was preaching at eleven o'clock. A great crowd had gathered, such a crowd that there was not enough room under the old arbor to accommodate it. Many were lounging about the grounds and not a few were perched upon a rail fence which surrounded the grounds. Among these was a man who had begun to grow old in sin. If he had not been actually hostile in his attitude toward religion he had been exceed- ingly indifferent. Now he sat on the fence more, per- Leroy Parks Gwaltney 95 haps, to be with the crowd than to hear a sermon. Gwaltney was preaching on the subject of the final judgment and as he described the scenes of that great day as only he could describe them, the man was seen to tremble ; and as the preacher grew more and more eloquent and more and more powerful the poor man tumbled from the fence as if stricken down by some powerful unseen hand, and cried aloud in alarm. It was my pleasure to attend what the brethren term a Fifth Sunday Meeting at Three Forks, on the fifth Sunday in May, 1908. Mr. Gwaltney was to preach and when the hour arrived the large house was packed with people from all the surrounding country. I have before me two diaries, one kept by myself and the other by the Rev. Gwaltney. In the diary of Gwaltney I find the following brief and modest nota- tion : "Fifth Sunday in May. Three Forks. Preached to a large crowd on wounded head of the beast and pouring out of the vials of wrath. The solemn occa- sion of my life". In my own diary, written the next day, I find the following statement: "Fifth Sunday in May. Went to Three Forks. * * * Heard Parks Gwaltney preach. He used the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of Revela- tions as a basis for his sermon — the wounded head of the beast and the pouring out of the vials. The ser- mon was one of the greatest of his. life. His language was faultless, his voice clear and musical, his thoughts sublime, unclouded and, to add to the fact that he was fully in control of his subject, the fact that he knows, the book of Revelation as few men in this country know it, and that he was passionately in earnest made 96 The School Of The Prophets it one of the greatest he ever preached and the great- est I have ever heard". As I write these lines I am reminded that twenty- eight years have winged their flight and gone since that notation was made in my diary; yet I am more thoroughly convinced now that I have never yet heard the equal of that sermon than I was then. Up to this good day I have never heard a sermon so powerful in its delivery or one that evinced so great a grasp of the subject. I have never, I believe, seen a crowd so completely absorbed, so eagerly attentive or so deeply impressed. When I hear the words "What is truth?" I imme- diately think of Parks Gwaltney; for I think of that text as "Parks Gwaltney's text". Back in 1907 the Federal Government created a commission to investi- gate child labor in cotton mills. Mr. Thomas Dawley, Jr., of New York, a very brilliant and accomplished gentleman, was sent to North Carolina for the inves- tigation here. Mr. Dawley published a book contain- ing his findings and along with the report there are many other things of interest. He devotes a chapter to his visit to Taylorsville and the cotton mill at Lile- down, owned then by Rev. J. W. Watts, of whom he speaks in the highest terms. In this chapter there is found the following reference to L. P. Gwaltney: "I attended services at one of the little churches [in Taylorsville] and listened to a sermon that far ex- celled many I have heard delivered from some of our large metropolitan pulpits. The gray-haired minis- ter with flowing beard, took for his text the thirty- eighth verse of the eighteenth chapter of St. John, Leroy Parks Gwaltney 97 'What is Truth?' He drew a word picture of Christ before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, when he went out to the Jews and said, 'I find no fault in him at all.' There was no shouting, particularly at the wrong place, no hysterical shouting to 'come and be saved', but the sermon was a simple, sane Bible les- son in a style of oratory that was natural and un- strained". Humility is one of the most beautiful and lovely virtues. There is such a thing, however, and most of us have observed it, as wearing the garb of humility and at the same time speaking in the language of dif- fidence, especially when a selfis.h purpose is best served thereby, while in reality the heart is full of arrogance, self-sufficiency and pride. Many men may be able to speak in the language of Gilead who cannot frame to pronounce the word "Shibboleth". But if there is such a thing in the world as a truly humble man, I believe Parks Gwaltney was one. I do not wish to be understood as saying that he did not hold strong convictions about things or that he would be swayed in his convictions by public opinion, or that he would surrender a conviction where principle was involved. Quite to the contrary, he held, like the needle to the pole, to those fundamentals of the Christian faith as taught in the Scripture and was ready to de- clare them or to defend them with all the power he pos- sessed. And woe to them who joined battle with him! "When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid". When he heard the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, then he began to bestir himself 98 The School Of The Prophets and the Lord went out before him to smite the hosts of the Philistines. When those blue eyes began to shine like two bright stars and he touched his fore- head with the tips of his fingers as if to turn on an electrfc current there was always "thunderings and lightnings and a mighty earthquake". Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more". And when the smoke of battle cleared away one could only exclaim, "How the mighty are fallen!" There was no breaking through his defense, just as there was no escape from his shot and shell. But whether in debate or in personal conversation, Parks Gwaltney was too refined to be rude or unkind or unfair. He was the embodiment of Christian cour- tesy and benevolent in the highest degree. Very few men whom I have known were so com- pletely self-emptied and so entirely dependent upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I have been search- ing in his diary recently and, knowing him as I did, I am not surprised to find oft repeated expressions of this deep sense of need. Quite often he had written, at the end of a paragraph, such sentences as these : "0, for power from on high for this month !" "Lord, increase a dependent faith in me, more and more." "O, for more of the Spirit each time I preach." "0, Spirit, do not leave us to ourselves. O, to be emptied of self, so the Spirit may come in." And on one occa- sion when he was about to start to an appointment he had written : "Lord, direct, if I am to go to T tomorrow". And again, "Lord, let me have thy pres- ence today. Do ! Do ! If Thy presence go not with me, send us not up hence". Leroy Parks Gwaltney 99 Here are two expressions found in the diary which are typical and which, it seems to me, serve to show the sowing and the reaping as expressed by the Psalm- ist in the words, "He that goeth forth with weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Or the pre- ceding expression : "They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy." "Now I go from here to Bethany and New Hope. Lord, prosper the journey, Lord do, for Jesus' sake. I pray for health, for journeying mercy and 0, for the Spirit's power to preach, to awaken men and to save the lost." And the second quotation is upon his. re- turn and at the end of the month. "A happy month of great spiritual blessing. To Him be all the glory!" The same spirit of humility characterized him in his association with his brethren. I can hardly think that he did not realize that he was a more able preach- er than the average of his day, but I can say, that, insofar as anything he ever said or did in my presence is concerned, no one could suspect that it had ever oc- curred to him. L. P. Gwaltney's presence in the pew was a bene- diction to any preacher who stood before him. If there is. such a thing as an "eloquent listener" he was that. And he gave the most sympathetic and prayerful attention to every one, whether he happened to be an old man without attainments or a young man without experience. I think almost anyone could preach with power if he had an audience made up of men and women who could listen like Parks Gwaltney. Mr. Gwaltney has helped a large number of young 100 The School Of The Prophets preachers on their way to success by his. sympathetic interest in them. His life, his kindly advice and his ready instruction have greatly strengthened and en- couraged many a young, struggling preacher, many of whom are living today and doing great good, and all of them with whom I am acquainted are sincere in their gratitude and warm in their affections toward him for the influence he wielded over their lives. "If I could preach like he can I would never dread to preach." We often hear words like the above, and I have heard them many times with reference to Parks Gwaltney. Yet he did dread the task more, it seems to me, than anyone whom I have ever known. He ap- proached the hour when he must "stand between the living and the dead" with solemn awe, as all preach- ers do, or should, but his deep sense of responsibility overwhelmed him. Just before the moment came for him to preach he would be so anxious and so deeply solicitous for the results of the service he would often groan audibly and one near him could hear his whis- pered prayer, "Lord, help me this once again". Not infrequently he would approach some friend in the audience and earnestly request that he be re- membered in prayer while he preached. I do not think his dread grew out of a fear of the people, nor yet from a fear that he might not be able to say what he planned to say, but rather that he was burdened with a sense of his terrible responsibility, as a preacher of the gos- pel ; for the faithfulness with which he delivered the message. He "had respect unto the recompense of re- ward" and desired to be "clear from the blood of all men". I have felt often that his anxiety and travail Leroy Parks Gwaltney 101 of soul amounted to actual suffering as a man in men- tal anguis.h 01 physical pain. But after he announced a text and "launched out into the deep" he seemed to forget the dread. In fact he seemed to forget everything about him, save that he was surrounded by men and women, made in the stamp and image of God, who would soon be in the grave and that he had a message from God to them that would determine all the destinies of this life and the life to come. And how the man could preach. With what power, what eloquence! What an outflowing and overflowing of dynamic appeal! With what vehement desire and with what passion of spirit and yearning of soul ! No man could sit under the power of his gospel and not be stirred to the depths unless, indeed, he were either helplessly irresponsible or hopelessly hardened. It was, perhaps in the summer of 1905 or 1906. The revival meeting was in progress at my home church. Parks Gwaltney was a visitor for the week, his home being only a mile or so distant from the church. The meeting had been in progress all week and Friday had come with only a little interest mani- fested. The brethren were gloomy as to the outcome of the meeting. Something had been said about closing that day. There were, attending the meeting, a large num- ber of young men who, it seemed, were drifting heed- lessly down the turbulent stream that carries men to ruin. There were also older men, growing more and more careless and indifferent as the years rolled on, some of whom had, it seemed, become hardened against 102 The School Of The Prophets the gospel appeal. Friday afternoon Gwaltney was prevailed upon to preach. He consented and after an- nouncing the text which I cannot recall, being only fifteen years of age and very little concerned myself in such things, he began to talk and as he talked he grew more and more eloquent and more and more powerful. He stood there like some messenger from another world and those who heard him saw in him the stern judge bearing the issues, of life and death. They saw the lightnings as they played about the heights of Sinai and heard the muttering thunder of advancing vengeance. They saw the throne of judgment set and themselves standing with naked souls before the pierc- ing eye of Him whose voice was as the sound of many waters. They saw, too, the beckoning hand of mercy as from Golgotha's hill and heard the tender appeal from far back across the ages, "Turn sinner, turn, for why will ye die?" Parks Gwaltney was the flaming ambassador for Christ, praying them in Christ's stead to become recon- ciled to God. It was as if he were saying, "You must make the decision today, tomorrow will be too late! You dare not decide against God and against your own souls, but you will decide for eternity today! Come!" Perhaps he did not s.peak more than twenty min- utes, but when the invitation was given they came! Young men, resolving to live lives of service ; old men, awakened from years of slumber. They came troop- ing down to the altar and saying as one of old, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved". I have never heard or felt anything approaching Leroy Parks Gwaltney 103 this appeal. No man can describe it. Unless one heard for himself he can never understand. No, I have never heard anything like it since and what is more, I never expect to hear anything- like it again. There were certain words and phrases which, when spoken by Parks Gwaltney, took on a new significance and added force. He often used the expression, "0, my hearer!" and to hear him say those words was to get a new revelation of the power of human expression. It was one of those things which one never forgets. Once he was describing a sleeping city where fire was eating its way into the buildings. Some early riser discovered the fire and gave the alarm : "Fire ! Fire ! Fire !" I was listening attentively to the description and wishing I could paint pictures like that when the alarm came. I do not know how it happened, but I almost leaped out of my seat, and when I got hold of myself and looked around to see if anyone had seen my movement I soon discovered that I was not the only man in the audience hastily shuffling back into posi- tions of dignity. Beneath a modest shaft in the old churchyard at Sulphur Springs sleeps the body of a great man. Only the words of simple record are found on the granite, indicating the birth and passing of L. Parks Gwalt- ney. Soon a new generation will pass that way to look upon the simple inscription and remark, "This is the grave of one of the pioneer Baptist preachers of this mountain country". How many of them will know that no more brilliant mind or eloquent tongue 104 The School Of The Prophets in our beloved state is held within the charnel confines of the tomb? The end came, after a lingering illness, at his. home in Taylorsville on December 2nd, 1925. The funeral was held at the Baptist church there, conducted by the pastor, Rev. E. V. Bumgarner. He used as a text the thirty-eighth verse of the third chapter of Second Samuel, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen in Israel today?" The text was, indeed, an appropriate one. The preacher paid a glowing tribute to the life and minis- try of the man who had fallen. People from all parts of the surrounding country came to offer their tribute of love and esteem for the man whom they had so de- lighted to hear. Only a portion of the great crowd found room within the building and so they stood with- out and patiently waited to follow the funeral cortege to the place of interment. I stood one day by the resting place of this man in the lonely, silent city of the dead and in reverence I drifted back across the hills of time to other days. Once again I felt myself in the presence of a gigantic intellect as dynamic as the unleashed forces of the thunder cloud and as keen as the Damascus blade of two edges. I was once again attracted and drawn by a magnetic personality, pleasing, courteous, strong. I saw the flashing eye, as in the long ago, like the sparkling of a flawless diamond. Once again I heard the charming smoothness of a voice lifted in tenderest appeal like the tones of a thousand silver chimes. I heard the old orator, standing alone and above all by which he was surrounded like the tall mountain Leroy Parks Gwaltney 105 whose summit pierces the clouds where eternal sun- shine warms the springs of life. I heard again the roll and flow of an oratory, rippling at times like the mountain rivulet and then again thundering and crash- ing and bounding like an Alpine avalanche sweeping all before it. I awoke from my reverie and lo, it was but the whispering zephyrs in the pine trees, wafting back to me memories, memories of other days. Reality stood before me, stern, cold, relentless. He flung at me a challenge and with it a threat: "Go!" he said, "You are not in the land of dreams but in the Kingdom of Reality!" And then with stern face and piercing eye he said, "Go and fill the little niche in the great struc- ture of human achievement for which you are fitted. If you cannot shine as the sun, shine as a candle. If you lack the charm of the orator, speak the plain words of sincerity. But go ! and if you fail, yes, if you fail, He hath appointed a day in which he will judge — you — in righteousness". XI AS I REMEMBER The fine art of conversation, if it be an art, is one of the rarest accomplishments, if it be an accomplish- ment. It is my personal and probably worthless opin- ion that conversationalists are born, not made. I have met only one man in my life who I thought was the equal of Parks Gwaltney as a charming enter- tainer. I shall not mention names here, but it has been my rare good pleasure to sit and listen to these two 106 The School Of The Prophets men talk. It was like having both hands full of honey. Why is it that people will gather round one man to hear him talk while the same crowd will cross the street to the other side just to avoid having to hear another man talk? It can hardly be said that culture alone is the reason for the difference. We have seen some of the most highly cultured men who were lame in this art to the point of embarrassment. We have also met with men who had very little "book learning", just plain every-day folks, who could hold us like a vise without seeming to put forth any effort to be interest- ing or even seeming to know that they were engaging. L. P. Gwaltney was not only a gripping conversa- tionalist, sparkling, radiant, fascinating, but he had that fine tact of adapting himself to the environment. He was at home among the most humble, and made everyone else feel the same way, but he was equally at ease and conversed with the same irresistible charm among the most exacting culture. A neighbor told me not long ago of a preacher who went to visit a home rather by accident than by appointment. The man of the house was tired and the good woman was not expecting company. When they learned that the preacher intended to stay over night the husband said to the wife, "I would give five dollars if he had gone somewhere else". But the preacher made himself so agreeable, en- tertaining the children and radiating so much cheer, that it was late in the night before they realized it. The next morning they stood on the porch and waved the preacher farewell and the husband said to the wife, "I would not have missed that visit for five dollars". Leroy Parks Gwaltney 107 Some people are like that. That quality, whatever it is, that holds one and makes one sorry when the happy moments of fellowship are gone, is not learned in school any more than the color of one's eyes is deter- mined by the weather. One never loses the influence of the contact with a man like that. Personality plus the religion of Jesus is the most magnetic influence in the world. I have never met and talked with Parks Gwaltney without feeling a renewed desire to be a better man. Who knows but that in that great day for which all days were made it shall be found that the daily life and conduct of even a great preacher will count for more in the giving out of rewards than the sermons he has preached? When Jesus saw Nathaniel he said of him, "Behold an Israelite, indeed, in whom is no guile". Webster defines the word guile as meaning, for one thing, de- ceit. Peter admonishes the scattered strangers to re- frain the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking guile. Frankness, innate truthfulness, is the first es- sential to goodness as well as to greatness. I care not what a man's attainments may be or how exalted his station, he slides down to zero in the estimation of the average person as soon as deceit is detected in him. If one cannot be sure that one is tell- ing the truth, at least as he believes it, how can he in- fluence one for good? Some time ago I heard an evangelist relate a story three times in the course of a month. Each time he re- lated it the details were so contradictory and so posi- tively irreconcilable that I decided none of it was true. 108 The School Of The Prophets The story was an experience of his own. A brilliant young man related a story in my presence, beginning with, "as I walked down the street in . . ." Then he related the incident as if it had all occurred in his own experience. I knew very well I had that story in a book of illustrations at home and that the story was at least a hundred years old. There seems to have developed in certain circles a kind of speaker's license to appropriate other men's experiences as their own. But to save my life I am not able to see how a public speaker, especially a preacher, has a better right to lie than anyone else. I stand today on the hill top of life looking over toward the setting sun and as I reflect upon the happy association with Parks Gwaltney, Jay Gwaltney and Daniel Poole, not only in the ministry but in the rela- tion of neighbor and friend, I am compelled to admit that my greatest admiration for these men has grown out of my feeling of perfect confidence in them. They were sincere and truthful by instinct. A preacher had better go down in failure; better let his name trail in the dust of ignominious defeat and sink into everlasting oblivion than lose the confidence of his fellowmen by venturing one single statement that he knows is not the truth. We shall all make mis- takes, but a mistake is a thousand times better than studied duplicity. Did these men make mistakes? Who does not? Yet if they told you about some happening, some experi- ence, if they confided to you a secret, if they made you a promise; if they offered a criticism or ventured a Leroy Parks Gwaltney 109 compliment: write it down in ink. It was just exactly that way. Gwaltney and myself were riding together on our way to the Briar Creek Association along about the fall of 1907. We crossed Hunting Creek on the cov- ered bridge at Campbell's Mill and after climbing the hill to the north, Gwaltney pointed out an old house place where then there were only a tree or two and a pile of rocks which had once been a chimney. He explained that this was once the home of the Jennings family, the grandfather of J. T. Jennings, and that on account of its proverbial hospitality it be- came known as the "Preachers Hotel". Then he related an amusing incident of his early ministry while attending an Association at Zion, as follows : All the preachers attending the Association num- bering perhaps fifteen or more were invited to spend the night at the Jennings home. After the evening meal they all sat on the porch and talked till late in the night, then they were shown to their sleeping apart- ment which proved to be the entire upper story of the "big house" with all the furniture removed, straw covering the floor while sheets had been spread over the straw. The weather was warm and this arrange- ment was all they needed to be comfortable. The brethren retired but instead of sleeping they resumed the conversation and continued to talk till after midnight. Finally some brother made a motion. He said, "Brethren, I move we quit talking and go to sleep". Another brother seconded the motion and the former spokesman added, "Are there any further re- 110 The School Of The Prophets marks?" Whereupon another brother said, "Mr. Chair- man, I wish to make a few remarks". And so the way was opened for more talk. As a result the brethren talked till morning and, after breakfast, went back to the Association without a wink of sleep. While engaged in a revival meeting at Taylor Springs many years ago, along with a number of other preachers, Parks Gwaltney was approached by Hamp Rupart with the request that he be allowed to take one of the services and preach. Now Hamp Rupart was a half-wit, although he succeeded, without trying, in supplying the whole country with something to laugh about for many years. Hamp, of course, could not preach, but he was seized and holden of one grand hallucination : he lived and died under the belief that he was called to preach. Gwaltney said to him, "No, Hamp, there are several big preachers here and little fellows like you and me will have to keep quiet". Then Hamp got mad. He said, "I know what is the matter with you, you just don't want me to preach because you want to preach your own self. And let me tell you something, you can't preach no better than I can. You just rip and snort and tear your old throat and that's all you do". Once upon a time in a session of the Association the subject arose as to the value, if any, of the degree of D. D. attached to one's name. The discussion be- came spirited and the subject out of which it had grown was sidetracked for a time. Gwaltney took no part in the debate until some one called him out, requesting that he express his opinion. He reluctantly arose and said : "Brother Moderator, and brethren, I am not an Leroy Parks Gwaltney 111 authority on the subject, but in my humble judgment, in so far as the value of the degree to a preacher is concerned, it is to a preacher exactly what the curl in a pig's tail is to the ham". It is related, probably as a joke only and not act- ually true, that Parks Gwaltney went on one occasion to visit at the home of Jay Gwaltney and, at Jay's suggestion, they went fishing. The fish were biting fine and they were having great fun when Mrs. Gwaltney sent some one to call them to dinner. They hurried home, sat down to the table and Jay began to eat. Mrs. Gwaltney said, "Are you not ashamed of yourself, Jay? are you going to eat dinner and not ask a blessing be- fore you eat? 7 ' And Jay answered, "Who in the world has time to ask a blessing while the fish are biting as they are today?" Once upon a time Jay Gwaltney and Journey Wood- ward were chasing a fox away down on the Harris Ridges when the dogs got away from them and ran entirely out of hearing. They followed on till they came to where a man was working in the field whom they asked, "Have you heard any dogs pass this way?" The man slowly looked up from his work and said, "Yes, there were some dogs passed through this field". They asked him which direction the dogs had gone and he replied, "I never paid any attention." After Journey and Jay had gotten out of earshot of the man, Jay turned to Journey and said, "Journey, that man would steal corn !" Once Parks Gwaltney was riding across the Brushy Mountains on his way to an appointment when he met a lad in the road to whom he said, "Howdy, Son". The 112 The School Of The Prophets boy stood like a stone and said nothing but fixed his eyes on the preacher's face and steadily gazed. Gwalt- new asked him whose son he was and where he lived and several other questions, to all of which the boy replied not a word. Finally Gwaltney started on, be- lieving that there was something wrong with the boy's head, when all of a sudden the boy exclaimed, "Hell, what a beard!" Jay Gwaltney used to tell of an old gentleman by the name of Copeland Mitchell, the father of the Alex- ander County Mitchells who lived on a farm adjoining the Gwaltney homestead. One Sunday morning, bright and early, a certain citizen was passing through the Mitchell farm, following a path through the woods and fields when he was startled by the sharp crack of a rifle. Before he had proceeded far another shot rang out in the still Sabbath morning air, and soon another. The man hastened on in the direction of the shots and soon came upon Mr. Mitchell standing at the foot of a large tree looking intently up into its branches. His face wore a perplexed and somewhat disgusted expression and, upon observing the neighbor he ex- claimed, "Do you see that squirrel sitting up there on that limb as plain as the nose on a man's face? Well, by gum, I can't hit him. I can see the bullet go right up to within an inch of his head and then 'zoong', it curves right around him". As an example of extreme stinginess Uncle Jay Gwaltney related the following incident: There lived in Alexander County a colored boy by the name of Charl Redmond, or "Chad Sy". He was a strange sort of a man with some sense but consider- Leroy Parks Gwaltney 113 ably short on the score of dignity. He decided to get married and requested Uncle Jay to say the words that would make them legally man and wife. Uncle Jay complied with the request and when the ceremony was over Charl asked what the charge would be. Uncle Jay replied that there was no charge, but that he usual- ly expected enough to enable him to mail the license back to the office of the Register of Deeds. Charl asked how much that would be and when informed that it would be two cents he fished in his pockets a long time and produced a nickel and, holding it up to view, said, "Can you change that?" When the county of Alexander was organized from a strip of Iredell and the county jail was built, the first man to be incarcerated therein was one Calve Hum- phrey, an eccentric but witty character who had been apprehended upon some minor charge. A group of young fellows with Jay Gwaltney as spokesman went to Taylorsville to see the jail where they made the ac- quaintance of Mr. Humphrey. They asked him why he had been placed in jail and he replied, "Well, it was this way : I stole a sawmill and got by with that, but when I went back after the mill dam they caught me". The young fellows asked him how he liked to stay in prison and he replied, "Oh, I liked it fine! Taylors- ville is a good place to stay. It produces a barrel of seed ticks to the acre and black snakes enough to fence it in". Many years after the Civil War Jay Gwaltney was sitting one day in the courthouse at Taylorsville when a man whom he took to be a stranger came and, throw- ing his arm about the preacher's neck, exclaimed, 114 The School Of The Prophets "Don't you know me, Jay?" and being assured that he did not know him he said, "You are the man who car- ried me wounded from the danger zone and to safety and help at the battle of Gettysburg". His gratitude was so sincere and his joy at seeing him again after so many years so exquisite that he could not refrain from tears. Jay Gwaltney afterwards used this instance to illustrate the blessedness of doing good to others and the reward which comes to us in the knowledge of hav- ing helped some fellow traveler along the rough and toilsome pathway of life. DANIEL WILSON POOLE Rev. Daniel W. Poole XII DANIEL WILSON POOLE I feel some delicacy in writing a biographical sketch of my father-in-law and shall, therefore, refrain from writing a lengthly account of his life and labors. Yet I do not hesitate to include his name in the little book since it is entitled The School of the Prophets and he was one member of the trio who originated the Bible Study Course, so named. For many years L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole were the only ones attending the school. Daniel Wilson Poole was born in Alexander County, North Carolina, June 21, 1851. He was a son of Rev. William Poole and Mrs. Mary Poole who, before her marriage, was Miss Mary Austin. The Pooles were of English stock, coming from England to Wales and from Wales to America, as the following bit of history will show. The name was first spelled Pole and later Pool and generally now, Poole. Reginald Pole of England was a grand nephew of King Edward, IV, of England. He was a Roman Catho- lic. He wrote a book on the divorce question which enraged King Henry, VIII, who summoned Pole to ap- pear before him. Pole refused to appear and invited the King to reply to the book if he could. Whereupon the King summoned Pole to appear to answer the charge of treason. Upon the death of Pope Paul, III, Reginald Pole was elected Pope but owing to the enmity of the king he (117) 118 The School Of The Prophets was never allowed to take his seat, being accused of heresy. The king later ordered his mother and family placed in prison where they were beheaded. (1541). A young brother, William Pole, escaped and went to Wales where he changed the spelling of his name to Pool. He married in Wales and reared a family, two of his grandsons subsequently coming to America, and settling in Virginia. The grandsons were Alexander and William. Alexander Poole moved from Virginia to Pennsyl- vania. William remained in Virginia near where the city of Petersburg now stands. He married a Miss Ward and to this union were born eight sons and one daughter. The eldest son was killed in the Revolu- tionary War. William Poole died in Virginia and soon afterward his widow moved with her children to Ran- dolph County, N. C. There the daughter married a Baptist minister by the name of Swanson. The sons, all but one, moved to various sections of Eastern North Carolina, to Georgia and to South Carolina. The young- est son, Jesse, married Miss Elizabeth King in 1795 in Randolph County and moved to what is now Alex- ander County. Here they reared a family of three sons and one daughter. The sons were Jesse, James and William. William Poole married Miss Mary Austin of Alex- ander County. They reared a family of six sons and five daughters. The sons were Jesse, who died Feb. 5, 1841, Nathan, James B., William A., Christopher C, and Daniel W. The daughters were Nancy, Naomi, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Isabella. Not a great many families can boast of five preach- Daniel Wilson Poole 119 ers. There were four sons of William Poole, himself a preacher, who became preachers. They were Chris- topher C, James B., William A., and Daniel W. After the death of Mrs. William Poole, Mr. Poole married Miss Rebecca Hendren and to them were born two sons, J. J. H. and Elzy Poole. Rev. D. W. Poole made a profession of religion at the age of thirteen years and united with the Baptist church at Antioch. He attended free school at Elen- dale and later entered high school at Taylorsville under William Davis. He also attended the school at Sul- phur Springs taught by Prof. George Greene. He fol- lowed the teaching profession for a number of years, teaching at Elendale, Walnut Grove and Vashti. In the meantime he studied law but being impressed with a call to the ministry he abandoned the study of law and began preparation for the ministry. He was ordained at the age of thirty years. The ordination took place at Bethel, 1880, to which church he had moved his membership. His first charge was Pilgrim church where he was pastor for a number of years. It will not be out of place, I think, to say here that Pilgrim church will celebrate its hundredth an- niversary this year, 1936. Within the forty odd years of his ministry he served as pastor, Antioch, Bethel in Alexander, Bethel in Iredell, Cub Creek, Damascus, Hams Grove, Macedonia, New Hope, Oak Forest, Oak Grove, Pleasant Hill, Pisgah, Sulphur Springs, So- ciety, Shady Grove, South River, Three Forks, Ver- non, Walnut Grove and probably others. D. W. Poole married Miss Charlotte Rufina Wil- liams, daughter of Mr. David Williams, March 1, 1876. 120 The School Of The Prophets They reared a family of four sons and five daughters. They were Carrie, Bertha, Fred, Florence, Donald, Fay, Ralph, Ruby and Edward. D. W. Poole was well versed in the Scriptures. There was a time in his life when he could call to memory and quote with a remarkable degree of accuracy a large portion of the Bible and could give the chapter and verse of each quotation almost as if he were reading. He had made a special study of the generally accepted doctrines of the Bible and very few men of my ac- quaintance possessed a more sane and sound grasp of the fundamental teachings of Scripture than he. He was not a dogmatist nor was he in any sense intolerant toward the opinions of others; yet he was as firm in his convictions as the granite "Bald Rock" upon which he could look from his door and as un- shakable as the pillars of Hercules in what he thought to be the truth as taught in the Bible. In common with most rural preachers of his day his lot was by no means an easy one. His churches were scattered over a wide range of territory with only make-shifts for roads. A preacher could take his choice between riding in a buggy, on a horse or walk- ing. It was not uncommon for D. W. Poole to drive through snow and ice, rain and heat for many miles to reach his appointment. Then, too, church people thought in much smaller financial terms in those days. I am not going to say whether it is right or wrong for a church to require a preacher to render a strict and unremitting service with all the arduous toil involved in it and then allow him, or rather compel him, to secure his bread some- Daniel Wilson Poole 121 where else and by some other means. Probably there are considerations with which I am not acquainted that will tend to mitigate the fact at the Judgment; yet that is almost, if not exactly, what did happen and what is still happening in this country. D. W. Poole, however, was never heard to complain. I feel that probably a preacher is not only doing him- self an injustice but his church an injury by allow- ing his modesty to seal his lips on the subject of bread and meat. D. W. Poole would have suffered hunger and cold to the point of starvation before he would have even remotely intimated to the good brethren that his renumeration was insufficient to keep soul and body traveling in the same direction. Poole was one of those indomitable spirits whom the elements could not daunt. He put the preaching of the gospel first, even before his own interest, includ- ing his health. When the time came for him to start to his appointments he started ! Nothing could hin- der but serious sickness or high water. Snow and ice, sleet and storm had no terrors for him. Fortunately, he was a man of strong physical manhood. In his young days he was considered a very strong and ac- tive man. He never had a doctor to see him, I have understood, until he was fifty years old and then not again, perhaps, for fifteen years. Mr. Poole not only went to his appointments, rain or shine, but he went ahead of time. He could never sit quietly and wait for the hour to go. And this was true whether he had twenty miles to travel or only one mile with an hour in which to make it. Quite often his appointment would be at such a dis- 122 The School Of The Prophets tance he was compelled to leave home on Friday in order to reach the church for the Saturday afternoon service. Then after the Sunday service he would drive as far toward home as he could that day and arrive at home on Monday. But he never hesitated a mo- ment, nor did he consider the fact that his own work at home would be neglected. Whatever criticism may be offered, whether of praise or of disapprobation of the work of D. W. Poole, one fact stands out in all his ministerial career upon which all who knew him will agree : his work was a work of love. If the spirit of unselfishness — of en- tire self-sinking for the sake of others — if sacrificial service joyfully rendered is commendable "Uncle Dan- iel" Poole deserves the highest esteem; for he laid aside his own interests in the interest of others as no other man whom I have ever known. Daniel Poole was a man of solemn mien. There was never a minute of his mature manhood long enough for any sort of useless frivolity. He was not morose, pessimistic or gloomy. It was his nature to view life only from the serious viewpoint. The stern and solemn realities of life with all the ever present and inescapable responsibilities of living here in this earth among men seemed to have determined his at- titude and governed his every thought and action. The work which he believed God had for him to do was so important, so urgent, and he felt his own responsibility so greatly that there was little time for things of light- er vein. "Whether we be sober it is for your cause" would have expressed his attitude very well. If I were called upon to name the one most prom- Daniel Wilson Poole 123 inent characteristic or distinctive quality in the min- istry of D. W. Poole I would say, without hesitation, that it was earnestness. As a prerequisite to a success- ful ministry his faith was as simple and as real as that of a child and yet as sturdy as the everlasting hills. He never seemed to entertain the remotest doubt about the eternal verities. Those sable birds of un- certainty that flit on ebon wing about most of us in the night time, leaving us weak and sometimes distraught were unknown to him. The Bible to him was the very word of God and he believed himself to be God's am- bassador speaking words of authority which should determine the eternal destinies of men. The facts of orignal sin, of total depravity, the ruin of the race ; of God's love for fallen man as expressed in the gift of Jesus, the sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross, the all-sufficiency of the blood to cleanse and save, the official work and presence of the Holy Spirit in the world, the final resurrection of the dead and the general judgment, the glorification of the saints and the home in heaven; all these he be- lieved just as he believed himself to be a living man. He spoke, therefore, as one bringing tidings from the King, tidings of vital and urgent moment. His appeal was not only tender and loving but constant and passionate. The issues of eternal life and eternal death were involved in his message, as he believed, and he spoke, therefore, as a man charged with the final destinies of those who heard him. His sermons were sane, sound and safe. He never flew away after a wild, unscriptural or sensational va- gary, even when to do so would have meant a greater 124 The School Of The Prophets following. He did not ask if a thing were popular ; he wanted to know only if it were true. He never gave back an inch to false doctrines and made no conces- sions to, or compromises with, any man, sect, cult or belief which he believed unsound. He always had a "reason for the faith that was in him". He demanded a "thus saith the Lord" for every proposition and was abundantly prepared to give the same for his own con- victions. Daniel Poole was blessed with success as a rural pas- tor. Some of his pastorates covered a period of many years and long after his active work was done there remained a most tender and affectionate relationship between him and those brethren whom he had served. He entered into the spirit of the community well-being, visiting the sick and remaining in the homes of the people where he always found a warm welcome. His work was marked by an understanding sympathy that made him a place in the warmest affections of thou- sands to whom he had ministered. If I were called upon to give my opinion as to his main, outstanding personal quality I would say it was his piety. I am not discussing the goodness of others either by inference or by comparison, but I have known Daniel Poole all my life, having lived most of my childhood, boyhood and young manhood as a neighbor to him, and I would not only be doing myself an in- justice but I would be leaving out of this sketch the one thing upon which all who knew him will agree: that he was a man of unusual and extraordinary piety and goodness. He was as chaste in conversation among men as Daniel Wilson Poole 125 he was in the pulpit before an audience. He was as careful what he did on Monday as he was on Sunday. His sense of right and wrong was as keen as his love for justice and equity was fervent and unchang- ing. If a thing was wrong he simply had nothing to do with it, and if there were any questions as to the propriety of a thing, any uncertainty as to the moral right or legal justice of an act he had nothing to do with that either. "Do not speak harshly of anyone, for in so doing you lose the personal touch which might eventually result in his reformation. Do not repeat an evil re- port, for, in the first place, it may not be true; and even if the reports are based in facts, it may be great- ly exaggerated ; but if it were entirely true there could be no possible value in circulating it." This was the social code of ethics of Daniel Poole. He was slow to believe evil reports of men and slower to repeat them. His implicit faith in men has gotten him out of a good horse or two and a few cows, but his peace of mind and conscience has more than compensated for the loss. It will be observed that in writing of D. W. Poole, I have employed verbs of the past tense, although he is living and in excellent health for a man in his eighty- fifth year. My reason for speaking in terms of the past is obvious : his work is in the past. He will never serve another church as pastor or labor in the reviv- al meetings. His work is done and, as I have a reason to believe, done well. Rev. and Mrs. Poole are living contentedly at Hid- denite, N. C, not many miles from where they were born. They have never possessed an abundance of the 126 The School Of The Prophets things of this world ; they have lived economically but have never wanted for the necessities of life. They have worked hard and have never eaten the bread of idleness nor have they ever owned a single farthing that did not come by honest means. They owe no man and their circle of friends is large, loyal and true. When they come to the end of the journey they will have very little of a material value to leave behind; but influence for good, emanating from lives of unsel- fish, sacrificial service and untarnished integrity will be of far more value as a lasting heritage than all the gold of the miser or the lands of the lordly. That which their hands have builded will stand the storms of the ages and will be placed in the archives of the skies to remain eternal mementos of well spent lives while the vanishing power of imperial crowns, the sullied glory of the ruthless conqueror and the empty honor of the cruel despot shall have forever faded away in stygian darkness of voiceless oblivion. As the lingering rays of their setting sun illumines the far away hills to the west in fadeless colors of celes- tial beauty and glory they can look beyond the cloud- less horizon and glimpse the placid river, the streams whereof shall make glad the City of God. Long ago they found the Pearl of Great Price ; moss and rust can- not corrupt it, or the ravages of time efface it or the fires of judgment destroy it. XIII SOME REFLECTONS OF A NEIGHBOR Prof. James W. Hendren was my first public school teacher. He, along with his twin brother, John J. Daniel Wilson Poole 127 Hendren, taught for a number of years at Vashti, a famous country school back in the 80's. Young men and women from adjoining counties as well as from all sections of Alexander attended the school. I attended a reunion of the former teachers and pupils of the old school a few years ago at which Prof. James Hendren delivered the principal address. Among reminiscences of the old days around Vashti he had the following to say : "This gathering is made up, in part at least, of the old teachers of the Vashti school to which class I am supposed to belong. I have been trying to construct an alibi by means of which I could pose as a young man; but owing to the fact that there are so many grandfathers and grandmothers and a few great grand- parents who have gone to school to me at one time or another, I think I could hardly get by with it. "My experience as a teacher extends over a period of a half century. During this time I have taught in eight different counties in this state and in six differ- ent states in the Union. While teaching at this place I walked over three thousand miles to and from school ; ate approximately two thousand cold biscuits, had the measles, the mumps and later, the typhoid fever; was thrown from a mule, spent eight years among the In- dians without being scalped, got married and am still alive". Knowing Mr. Hendren to be a man of culture, dis- cretion and sound judgment and knowing him to be conservative in his estimates and guarded in his state- ments and, also, knowing that he had been closely as- sociated with Daniel Poole all his life, I requested him 128 The School Of The Prophets to write a brief statement of his estimate of him so that I might use it in closing the sketch. He graciously consented to my request and the following pages, re- lative to Daniel Poole, are from his pen. — The Author. By request of the author of this book I am sub- mitting this brief sketch of Rev. D. W. Poole. It is with sincere pleasure that I recall some of my im- pressions of Mr. Poole as a man and minister. Under these two captions may be included, I think, all the essential traits that go to make up a model character. If this little sketch possesses any merit at all, it may be attributed to the fact that a long and intimate re- lationship has existed between the writer and the sub- ject of this article. Mr. Poole is now in his eighty-fifth year, seven years my senior, so my acquaintance in- cludes his boyhood days, his young manhood and the more mature years of his life. No one, I am sure, would resent more quickly any- thing like fulsome praise or flattery in an appraisal of his life than Mr. Poole himself. And I am sure it is not my purpose to indulge in such sentiments in what I shall have to say. On the other hand I realize that we often withhold words of appreciation until it is too late — words that might have inspired, en- couraged and doubtless would have made life a little bit brighter amid the inevitable discouragements in- cident to every life. Jesus passed very few compliments on his indi- vidual followers, but when he did venture a word of commendation it was always sincere, appropriate and Daniel Wilson Poole 129 significant in its application. You recall that when he saw Nathaniel coming to him he said, "Behold an Israelite in whom is no guile". Paraphrasing this quotation slightly it can be said, very truly of Mr. Poole, "Behold a man in whom there is nothing in- sincere or deceptive in a single fiber of his charac- ter." His standards and conceptions of right and wrong are so nearly ideal and so inherently fixed in his life and practice that he very naturally looks for these same commendable qualities in others. Some- time the unscrupulous, aware of this confiding trust in his fellowman, have taken advantage of him in business, deals ; and though such evidence of a lower moral standard in others may cause regret, he still possesses, far above the average man, an abiding faith in his fellowman. At the close of the Civil War, Mr. Poole was a youth about fourteen years of age living in the home of his father on the farm, and attending such schools as there were in the neighborhood, for two or three months in the year. But in spite of the meager edu- cational advantages afforded by this period of his school age, he acquired a splendid practical education and spent a number of years in the school room as an efficient teacher. During these early years and, in fact for some years after his marriage, Mr. Poole, like the average young man, was somewhat at sea as to his permanent life work. Not that he did not have serious impressions at this time as to where his duty lay; for as he will tell you, no doubt, he was strongly under the impres- sion that he ought to enter the ministry. But as is so often true in such cases, he sought to resist the im- 130 The School Of The Prophets pression by trying to adjust himself to some other line of work in which he hoped to be equally useful. So he turned to the study of law in which pursuit he made satisfactory progress so long as his conscience and convictions could be reconciled to such a course. Mr. Poole, as I have indicated, abandoned the stu- dy of law, not at all, I think, because he found any- thing in the course that led to this step or because he had any misgivings as to his success in the legal profession; for it is quite reasonable to assume that with his logical mind and with a forceful and easy delivery he would have rated high at the bar. But the change in his plans and purposes concerning his life work was the outgrowth of a conviction and the decision to yield to what he now recognized as a defi- nite call to the ministry. He was now thirty years of age, what we might term almost middle life, but this portion of his life had not been wasted by any means. Quite to the con- trary, his struggle for an education, his experience in the school room as well as some knowledge of the fundamental principles of American jurisprudence were, in a very real sense, preparatory steps for his real life work. And whether Mr. Poole was conscious of the fact or not, he was undoubtedly following the divine plan outlined and emphasized by abundant Scriptural authority; for I think there can be no question as to this fact, that a call to the ministry im- plies a preparation for the work to which one is called. A college training and a course in the seminary were out of the question in his case, and while these adjuncts are regarded as most desirable, and there is Daniel Wilson Poole 131 no intention here to discount in the least these ad- vantages, yet the very conditions which preclude these so-called finishing touches, may work out, in a mea- sure, compensating advantages. The struggle for an education under adverse conditions supplies the sinew and strength of character so essential in every worthy endeavor, and especially in the ministry. Nothing operates so successfully in rounding out the practical side of an education as time spent in the school room imparting instruction to others. And if I have any conception as to what real preaching should be, there is as much teaching as preaching in a real sermon. If we take Christ's ministry as an example we find this to be true, I am sure. Although Mr. Poole never completed his law course, and of course never engaged in its practice; and though he may at the time have regarded the study as barren of practical results, yet I feel sure such was not the case. Of course my opinion in this matter might not be worth much, but I quote from Rev. L. P. Gwaltney, who as a preacher himself had no superior and, therefore, was eminently qualified to pass on the essentials of good preaching. He said of Mr. Poole that he was one of the most logical preachers he knew and that in his opinion this was due, in part at least, to his study of law. At any rate Mr. Poole was follow- ing a well established precedent in his apparent delay in entering the ministry. Christ was thirty years old when he entered upon his ministry and for some wise purpose, no doubt, these thirty years of his life are almost completely veiled in obscurity; his experience, whatever it may have been, was most likely prepara- tory for the few years of his ministry. 132 The School Of The Prophets Moses, whose life was in a very remarkable way divinely ordered, spent two-thirds, or eighty years, of his eventful life of one hundred and twenty years, in preparation for his last forty years of strenuous lead- ership. Mr. Poole made a profession of religion and joined the church when about thirteen years, of age; so that some seventeen years elapsed between that time and his entry into the ministry. This experience is com- mon in the lives of a great many ministers. But the reasons for this interval in Mr. Poole's career are not available on my part and really not essential. A defi- nite call to the ministry, inspired by the Holy Spirit and divinely sanctioned, is one of the tenets of the Bap- tist faith and practice. Whether this call is coinci- dent with conversion or whether it sometimes comes later is a question which I shall not attempt to ans- wer. A mere personal opinion may be ventured and pass for what it is worth. It is quite possible, and true in a great many cases, I think, that a more or less definite call is recognized at the time of conversion. Again, those who can speak from experience will tell you that a somewhat vague and uncertain impression at first may, in time, become an irresistible urge that cannot be doubted or ignored. It is possible, I think, that the act of conversion and the specific call to the ministry may come at differ- ent times, sometimes more or less widely separated. In such cases environment, or more specifically, the spir- itual atmosphere in which one lives plays an impor- tant role. In Mr. Poole's case I do not know his expe- rience — when the call came, just how he recognized it or any of the other phases that accompanied what was Daniel Wilson Poole 133 evidently a conviction to which he finally yielded. In this connection it is interesting at least to make a brief survey of his early surroundings. If a Christian envi- ronment, a positive religious atmosphere in the home, supplemented by precept and example are, in any way, factors in the problem, these were all very positively a part of his early life. His was a godly home in the truest sense — not a place where religion is a theory, but where it was lived and practiced. His father, William Poole, was a min- ister and three older brothers were ministers, also. The older brother, Nathan, was not a preacher but a most godly man and his influence on the early life of his younger brother was very marked. His mother was a saintly woman who prayed for and with her children. His sisters, all older than he, were examples to him of upright, Christian living. The Lord in his selection of representatives and leaders in the divine plan for evangelizing the world, sees in the individual essential traits for such lead- ership which might be entirely overlooked by man if he were making the selection. But I think that we shall find more often than not that he goes to some godly home presided over by pious and godly parents for such selection. The home of John the Baptist was such a home, for Luke tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth were both righteous before God. Jesus spent most of his earthly life in the home of Joseph and Mary, pre-emi- nently righteous and godly people. We might mention other homes from which great leaders were taken as in the case of Moses, David and Samuel whose parents and home-life were distinctly religious. 134 The School Of The Prophets The fact that the father and four sons of this fam- ily were divinely called into the ministry, the most useful and exalted of all the vocations, is a most worthy tribute to the reverence and godly living of those who presided over the home. Just what influence this home-life had in leading Mr. Poole into the ministry, or whether it was in any way a deciding factor at all, I am wholly unprepared to say. I doubt whether Mr. Poole himself could say just how much, if anything, environment had to do with his call. But of one thing I am sure, he neither doubts nor fails to appreciate the helpful influence of such a home. Another fact of which there can be no doubt is, that God could have used all these assets as a means to this end, to enlist his energies, his efforts, his life in His cause. For the past ten years Mr. Poole has not been ac- tively engaged in the work of the ministry, but he and Mrs. Poole are living a quiet life in their attractive little home at Hiddenite, N. C. Although not engaged in active ministerial work, he and Mrs. Poole are vi- tally interested in the church and the Sunday School, as well as in every other movement that helps to make an ideal community in which to live. But for forty- five years Mr. Poole was actively and continuously en- gaged in pastoral work, serving churches located in a group of piedmont counties including Alexander, Ire- dell, Wilkes, Catawba and probably others. In addi- tion to his regular pastoral duties he spent much time during revival seasons in evangelistic services aiding other ministers in revival meetings. Those old enough to recall conditions forty years ago, and more, and for many years later, are well aware of the condition of our roads generally at that Daniel Wilson Poole 135 time and as a result of these conditions, the difficulty of travel, especially during the winter months. In this day of quick and easy travel we can hardly appreciate the hardships endured by preachers of those days in going to and from their appointments. In many cases a round trip of forty or fifty miles was made monthly either on horseback or by horse and buggy over the most wretched roads and in all kinds of weather for years at a time. Nothing in fiction could be more in- teresting or fascinating, perhaps, than a record of the personal experiences of the Rev. D. W. Poole, L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney and others during these strenuous years of their ministry — a period of several decades marked by men, thrilling experiences and results, the like of which we may never see again. Unfortunately no such record has been left by these sturdy, self-sacri- ficing, faithful evangels. Among the assets of any community in our apprai- sal of the moral and spiritual values of the community, is the minister. This is in a peculiar sense true of the resident minister whether actively employed or in re- tirement. The people may not always appreciate the moral worth to a community of the preacher, but in most cases there is evident appreciation of this ar- rangement. Some time ago a delegation of members from one of the churches which Mr. Poole had served as pastor came to visit Mr. and Mrs. Poole. They realized that he was no longer able to serve as pastor of their church, but to show their appreciation of former service as well as their interest in Mr. and Mrs. Poole personally, they proposed very generously to provide living quar- 136 The School Of The Prophets ters and to provide for their material needs for the re- maining years of their lives if they would only agree to live in their community, The preachers of a generation ago encountered dif- ficulties of which the modern preacher knows very lit- tle. Yet while his. labors were beset with exposures and hardships, and with small material remuneration, there was abundant compensation in the fact that the people whom they served so faithfully and under such handicaps hold them in tender and loving memory — a reward worth, no doubt, all the hardships of such a life. Another incident that should be mentioned, per- haps, in closing, is the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Poole celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of their marriage on the first day of March, 1936. They have reared and educated a family of nine children, all living, all married and maintaining homes of their own, another proof, among many others, that marriage is not always a failure. — J. W. Hendren. THE SCHOOL OF THE PROPHETS THE SCHOOL OF THE PROPHETS Editor Archibald Johnson writing in Charity and Children many years ago about the school which is the subject of this chapter highly commended the preachers for the work they were doing and suggested that other groups in different given circles organize such a study course. He wrote under the caption, "The School of the Prophets", and I have borrowed the appelation as the heading of this chapter. Not many years after the war between the states three young preachers L. P. Gwaltney, J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole, all living in the same neighborhood, fell upon the idea of meeting together one day in each week for the purpose of studying the Bible. These young men were strong and vigorous, full of energy and intensely anxious to forge ahead in the work of the ministry and to gain all possible mutual value from the weekly study and association. They secured such helps as they could, including Barnes, Clark, Fuller, Henry and other expositions of the Scriptures and with the aid of these they began a systematic study. They would select a certain book or a group of books in the Bible, sometimes reading one book in the Old Testament and one in the New as, for instance, Matthew and Isaiah, Genesis and Romans, Daniel and Revelation, Malachi and Jude. These selec- tions were completed before another selection was made. (139) 140 The School Of The Prophets Not the least remarkable thing about this "Read- ing" is the fact that it continued without an interrup- tion through each year, with the exception of a short period during the revival season, for a half century and, instead of growing less interesting or of less va- lue, it gathered momentum and increased in interest and value with each successive year. The school was a source of great inspiration to these brethren; for not only were they able to gather new thoughts from each other but as "iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpen- eth the countenance of his friend" and by the same token these brethren were encouraged by each other's presence and interest. In this school these men laid a foundation deep and broad and built upon it such a knowledge of the Book of God as few men in this country possess. According to a diary which I have kept since 1906 I began meeting with these brethren in that year and continued without a break except for eight months at Wake Forest and three or four months at Concord until the spring of 1915. We were meeting first at Linney's Grove church and later, in order to accommo- date Rev. T. E. Redmon, we moved the meeting place to Pilgrim church. My only reason for this personal reference is that I wish to relate some things in this connection which are first hand and which I never could have known, in the sense that I do know them, by merely having heard of them. Please pardon me for a small digression here. I have mentioned the name of T. E. Redmon in connec- tion with the school and I am impressed to pay a tri- bute to this man. I feel that I speak the truth when The School Of The Prophets 141 I say that, in many respects, he was the most remark- able man I have known. For one thing he was un- learned, in the academic sense of the word. He could scarcely read a sentence clearly without help. I say this, not to do him an injustice, but rather, it is said in justice to him: for before the end of the first year he could read well and before he ceased to meet with us he had gathered such a vocabulary and could use it with so much fluency that the brethren marveled at his aptitude. He was so anxious to learn and so respectful in his attitude toward the brethren that they had great res- pect and admiration for him and took the deepest in- terest in helping him. He requested them to correct him in the use of his English at any time they saw reason to do so and assured them that he would not only not take offence but that he would be profoundly grateful to them. He rarely ever made a note, as the other brethren did, but trusted to his memory and never seemed to forget anything. He was always springing some new thought, original with himself, which was evidence of the fact that he was thinking ahead. It seems to us poor mortals a tragedy, that he was cut down in the prime of life. It would have been interesting to observe what development of mind and heart a ripe old age would have revealed in such a man. There were other preachers in Alexander County just as loyal to the truth and just as zealous in the pur- suit of knowledge as were the founders of the School of The Prophets. When I think of Rev. W. J. Bum- garner, for one, and begin to estimate some of the ac- 142 The School Of The Prophets tivities of his overflowing career I am simply amazed beyond measure at the enormous amount of work he has done, and how far reaching was his influence in that section of the country where he lived and labored. One can hardly find a church or an individual Chris- tian in all that wide territory without observing in some way or in some degree, the shaping hand of "Un- cle Jeff" Bumgarner. But J. P. and L. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole lived together in the eastern half of Alexander County and for many years were almost the only Baptist preachers living in that section. They grew up to- gether, they labored together and neighbored together. They studied together and worked together for many years. They told each other of their hopes and aims, their joys and sorrows ; they prayed for each other's interests and were as loyal and true to each other as brothers in the flesh could be. Their names became as household words : "Jay, Parks and Daniel" were names as inseparable as "Peter, James and John". I doubt if three preachers could be found anywhere in the world so bound together by the ties of friendship and brotherly affection and whose interests are so entire- ly divorced from selfish motives. These men lived "above the clouds" where eternal sunshine illumines the vision of those who walk on the King's Highway. The evil birds of passion may have flitted above their heads but they could not build a nest in their hair. If hatred and malice ever sought to poison the streams of usefulness in their lives the sparkling fountains of fealty and benevolence abounded to cleanse and purify. If avarice ever approached them to sully the conscience and steal away the peace and The School Of The Prophets 143 joy of their lives he must have looked into the humble, philanthropic depths of their souls and gone away, ashamed. There never was a spot or wrinkle or any such thing upon the good name of either of these men ; not even in whispered intimations among the vulgar who seek out the sordid suspicions of their kind to feed their vile craving for slander. They stood four square to the world and their lives were open books. As to the actual value of the school, that can never be estimated, at least not to our poor understanding. The development of mind and soul are not to be reck- oned in terms, of material value, nor yet can they be calculated in time ; for the values gained by these bre- thren were passed on to those whose lives they touched, so that, after all, vast eternity alone can reveal the fruits of their labors in the lives of others. In a cer- tain sense the school was a sort of a power-house where the current of influence was generated and from which these brethren went, each to his field of service with fresh inspiration to spread the light of the gospel to the thousands who heard them. Not many years after these brethren began the school they decided to devote certain hours each day to the preparation of sermons. If in the course of the reading they found a text that impressed them as being suitable as the basis for a sermon they would arrange an outline and then build the sermon by mutual sug- gestion. The style, the diction, the phraseology and even the application of the climax were left to the in- dividual inclination. L. P. Gwaltney was the recognized leader in this school. He never assumed the role of a teacher. In 144 The School Of The Prophets the ten years of my association with the school I never once heard him speak of the fact, and in his attitude toward the other brethren one would suppose that he was there only to learn from them. Not many teachers are that wise. Most eminently fitted was he to take the lead ; for he had a wonderful knack at retaining de- tails; he had read widely and carefully and his mind could grasp, with almost lightning swiftness, the great doctrines of the Bible. Once in a while these brethren failed to interpret things alike. There was always a lively debate when these questions arose upon which they held different views. Sometimes they would become aroused and for a time the sparks would fly, but always in the finest brotherly, Christian spirit. There were a few points of theology upon which there never was a full agreement and when these points were touched they always pro- duced a little spontaneous smile among the brethren. Another interesting and very helpful feature of the school was added in later years. A subject for dis- cussion was selected for the week following and a lead- er assigned. I find in looking over my diary such sub- jects as these were discussed : "The Five Cardinal Points in the Calvinistic Doctrines". The Pre- and Post-Millennial Views". "The Relation of God's Sov- ereignty to Human Responsibility". "The Meaning of Baptism", and so on. An hour in the afternoon was set apart for these discussions, each one present tak- ing a lively part in it. It is usually a difficult thing for a speaker to work himself up to anything like enthusiasm before a small audience, as every public speaker well knows, but one The School Of The Prophets 145 of the unaccountable things, about these discussions was quite often these brethren manifested as much fire and "vim" as if there had been a thousand people hearing them. Beside the benefits derived from the study of the Scripture and the discussion of the topics outlined there were other phases of value, not the least of which was the sweet fellowship of these saintly brethren, one with another. In this group there was no more need for a strained or affected effort to appear courteous than there is in the family circle; and there was no more reason for any of that circle of brethren to suspect that the friendship and brotherly feeling was feigned than there should be among brothers in the flesh. There was a spirit of perfect and wonderful confidence and simple trust among them which resulted in a sense of the sweetest security and ease. There was a refreshing and soothing absence of envy and jealousy, the lack of which I have never felt elsewhere and possibly never shall again in this, world. Their greetings were as warm and sincere as their partings were affectionate and reluctant. They related to each other their experiences of the previous week and told of their plans for the coming Sunday and each one seemed to enter as sympathetically into the con- cerns of the other as if their problems had been their own. They unreservedly and unhesitatingly sought counsel of each other in matters pertaining to their work and gave mutual suggestions with the same sin- cerity and brotherly trust with which they were sought. Not infrequently, when tired and weary, their voices were blended in harmonies of the long ago to 146 The School Of The Prophets refresh their spirits. A little of the spirit of levity would invade the circle and manifest itself in the re- cital of some amusing- incident coming under their ob- servation. But immediately they would return to work with renewed energy and in as solemn a mood as if nothing had taken place. Many are the happy experi- ences of those days. They make up a cool, shady oasis in the desert of life and shall never be forgotten while life endures. I should probably omit the richest and sweetest part of those years of arduous toil, of fellowship di- vine, of mutual help and of far reaching influence, if I failed to tell of the season of devotion at the begin- ning and at the end of each day. Let me say first, and I wish I could write it in letters of fire, that through all those years no day was ever begun without first a season of prayer. Usually they would sing a hymn, almost always some old soul refreshing song, before the prayer. I have heard it said by men who would seem to be competent judges that L. P. Gwaltney had a tenor voice that would have made him world famous if he had chosen to enter the field of music. Jay Gwaltney was a bass singer of no mean accomplishment and Dan- iel Poole had been a leader of song since boyhood. When these three men struck up the melodies of "The Indian's Farewell" or "Mattie" or "Holy Manna" or some other kindred song it was almost like placing the ear to the gate of heaven and hearing the angels sing. Then came the prayer, and with what fervor, what vehemence, what importunity they besieged the Throne of Grace ! I shall never forget while memory lingers The School Of The Prophets 147 how our hearts thrilled when L. P. Gwaltney said to us one day when we were about to part, "Brethren, I am going to remember each one of you by name at a throne of grace next Sunday at ten minutes before eleven o'clock. I wish that each of you would remember me". The brethren heartily acquiesced in the sugges- tion and we all went away with a new and happy an- ticipation of strength in our labors that this world can never bestow upon a preacher. Let me add that this mutual agreement was not for- gotten and for many years, indeed, as long as these brethren continued to preach, this promise was faith- fully carried out and, as long as I live, I shall believe that one of the most highly valuable blessings received by these brethren was the result of that mutual re- membrance coming in the form of inspiration and strength as a direct answer to prayer. Later, after L. P. Gwaltney had moved to Taylors- ville and D. W. Poole had gone to Stony Point to live, the school was discontinued for awhile, and insofar as old surroundings were concerned it was discontinued forever. But with the addition to the circle of Rev. E. V. Bumgarner, Rev. J. W. Watts and Rev. Atwell Watts and perhaps others, the school was carried on at Taylorsville for a number of years where a lively interest was taken and great good accomplished. The leadership of Rev. L. P. Gwaltney with the hearty cooperation of the brethren in carrying out this plan of study most certainly deserves the commenda- tion of the people of all this mountain country. The work they did was so thorough, so constructive and so inspirational in its nature, and the influence emana- 148 The School Of The Prophets ting therefrom so far-reaching and the results so valu- able and important that I may truly say eternity alone will reveal what it actually meant to those who spon- sored it and to those who, in the last analysis, received the fruits of it — the multitude to whom these brethren preached for a half century. Of the old school at Linney's Grove and later at Pilgrim there were seven who attended regularly, five preachers and two laymen. As I write these lines one only of these seven, beside myself, is alive. The School Of The Prophets 149 XV A VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life". These words were spo- ken two thousand years ago, yet there are among us those who turn back again to the weak (powerless) and beggarly (worthless) elements, desiring to re- main in bondage to forms and ceremonies, trying to profit by the "flesh" by observing days and months and times and years. It is the only avenue open for those who desire to be Christians outwardly and yet avoid the personal contact with the God who made them. There is a decided tendency among all religious people toward the ceremonial side of religion. The first division in the apostolic church arose over circum- cision. There were those who said, "Unless they be circumcised and obey the law of Moses they cannot be saved". This, of course, had reference to the Gentile converts. Paul championed the cause of spiritual, personal religion against the formal religion of the Ju- daizers and in all his writings he trained his most powerful artillery against those who would incorpor- ate the Mosaic ceremonies into the worship of the Christian church. It was a battle to the death between the gospel of ceremonies, and the gospel of faith. The battle is still being waged with the apostles of "Salvation by Grace" slowly but steadily retreating before the legions of the advocates of "Salvation by Works". Why should a man repent of sin and re- form his life when he can much more easily repeat some words or perform some rite ? Is it not much more 150 The School Of The Prophets agreeable to human nature and far less humbling than to stand before God with a naked soul? He has read history to very little purpose who thinks that Luther and Browne and Whitefield and Wesley and Knox were missionaries. It was not to establish the Christian religion that these men wrought, but to inject spiritual life into the old dry hull of a dead church in Europe. Or perhaps it would be more nearly correct to say that they were trying to save lost men and women from the lifeless religion of the age as well as from eternal ruin at last. A horse- racing, liquor-drinking clergy entirely surrounded, like an island, with forms, was not calculated to lead men to a higher life. The less men know about experimental religion the more zealously they cling to their forms. It is far more difficult to get a legalist to break away from his forms than to get a drunkard to leave off his drink and reform his life. Ishmael will always be the son of the bond woman no matter where he takes up land. The legalist will fight rather than give up his legalism. Persecution has always arisen and will always have its source among legalists. If the blind lead the blind there is nothing to be done, in respect to formalist re- ligion, but to let both fall into the ditch. Old bottles will burst if new wine is put into them and so the on- ly hope is to secure new bottles and they must be found outside of a lifeless formal church. There are certain words running all the way through the New Testament Scriptures, found in pairs by way of contrast, and by way of contrast set forth the difference between ceremonial, formal, ritualistic The School Of The Prophets 151 or legal religion and spiritual, experimental, regene- rating, heart religion: "faith and works", "faith and law", "Spirit and flesh", "grace and faith", "grace and law". For instance, Paul writing to the Galatians who had been listening to the Judaizing teachers, said, "Are ye so foolish ? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye made perfect by the flesh?" Thousands of professed Christians are today, after two thousand years of ad- monition, still trusting in the "flesh" for salvation. They believe if they perform certain rites and cere- monies all will be well, and they strive zealously to perform them in the prescribed manner and at the right time of the moon and in the proper season of the year. Spirituality to the legalist is foolishness. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him". The legalist knows a great many things about Christ: the spiritual man has. the living Christ in his heart. The legalist under- takes to climb to heaven on a ladder of good deeds; the spiritual man sees heaven opened and ascends by faith on the merits of the Son of Man. The legalist ascribes saving power to material sub- stance, such as water, wine, new moons, catechisms ; and to fleshly performances such as fasting, crossing the heart, paying the tithe ; the spiritual man ascribes saving power to God alone through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The legalist's religion is of the head ; the spiritual man's religion is of the heart. The legalist works from the outside; the spiritual man from the inside. I have heard of a Japanese custom which required the worshiper to run one hundred times around a 152 The School Of The Prophets temple, dropping a block of wood at a certain point at each round. When the task was finished the poor worshiper would go home tired, and happy that he had appeased the wrath of his god and secured his favor. How inexpressibly foolish! and how pitiable the poor deluded man ! But is there not just as much merit and just as much sense in the acts of the poor heathen as there is in a hundred and one fleshly per- formances of thousands of professing Christians who reverently go through with them in the belief that God's blessing will thereby be secured? Man by nature is an idolator. He must approach God through some tangible medium, something he can see with natural eyes and touch with his hands or he will not believe it possible to commune with God. In this he rejects Christ altogether, for "there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus". As soon as Moses is out of sight he makes a golden calf and bows down before it saying, "These be the gods that brought us out of Egypt". He cannot wors.hip at all unless the surroundings are of a solemn sort. The lights must be of a certain shade and the wooden cross must be in view. He would not think of kneeling unless he were in precisely the right angle with his architectural surroundings, and on the very altar prescribed for the purpose. They walk by sight and not by faith. They are saying, "Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies". The Bible requirement is "Believe!" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." "Veri- ly, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my words The School Of The Prophets 153 and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." The legalist says, "Do enough good works and perform enough rites and ceremonies and thou shalt be saved". Jesus said, "There is noth- ing from without a man that entereth into him can de- file him, but the things which come out of him, these are they that defile him". The legalist says "Be exceed- ingly diligent to refrain from eating certain foods on Friday". Paul says, "But meats commendeth us not to God ; for neither if we eat are we better, neither if we eat not are we worse". It will be recalled that Paul wrote to Christians of this class : "Ye observe days and months and times and years ; I am afraid of you." The legalist believes that because he has faithful- ly kept certain feasts and performed certain rites God will be well pleased with him and he derives a certain sort of comfort from his acts. The spiritual man, because he has "believed" has the "witness within him- self", because "The Spirit beareth witness with his spirit that he is the child of God". And that "witness" is his, not because he did certain acts, but because he believed and by faith is trusting in the blood that "cleanseths from all sin". The legalist says, "I am working my way to hea- ven". The spiritual man says, "Christ in me, the hope of Glory". The legalist says, "I am superior in morals to you because all these things have I kept from my youth." The spiritual man says, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ". 154 The School Of The Prophets In what way, then, is the spiritual union with Christ related to good works? In the same way that the vine is related to the branches or the tree to its fruit. 'A good tree bringeth forth good fruit", but in no sense does the fruit produce the tree. The spirit- ual union with Christ is the impelling and compelling power and motive behind the good deeds of a Christ- ian, but the good deeds do not produce a spiritual union with Christ. Acts of virtue flow from a spirit- ual union with Christ, but a spiritual union with Christ does not flow from acts of virtue. Salvation is no more the product of good deeds than a tree is the product of its fruit. And here is where the roads di- verged over which the respective groups of professed Christians have traveled for almost two thousand years and will travel down to the end of the age. Because of a spiritual union with Christ, Paul said, "I keep my body under, and bring it into sub- jection, (make it my slave) — beat it black and blue — lest by any means after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected". "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service". Did the apostle mean that this is the way to secure salvation? Certainly not! for "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight". And "by him all that BELIEVE are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses". The regenerated man does good deeds, leads a vir- tuous life, honors God in his conduct and strives might- ily to acquaint others with "the power of an endless life" because he is impelled to do so by the "Spirit that The School Of The Prophets 155 dwelleth in him." He does these things, not to procure salvation, but because he is saved. For the most part Baptists and Methodists, of the South have, in the past century and more, stood solid- ly for a regenerated church membership. That de- mand has lost force in the last few years. It is not nearly so far from the cradle roll to the church roll as it once was. We have advanced along intellectual lines and who would dare to contend that an educated person is as sinful by nature or as responsible to God for his sinful acts as an ignorant man? We have largely substituted a head religion in place of the heart religion of our fathers. Who knows but that Baptists will soon be wise enough to incorporate the use of holy water and the bones of saints? But the trend of the times does not indicate the correctness of the tendency. The burden of the min- istry of Jesus and his apostles was an effort to drive a wedge of cleavage, in an understandable way, be- tween spiritual and ceremonial worship. Probably no group of preachers could be found anywhere who have maintained the original concept of the nature of religion more clearly than L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole. There were others equally firm in their convictions and as zealous in their efforts, but few men in this part of the country have wielded such a powerful influence in moulding the public mind about things religious as they. These men stood unmoved and unshaken in their convictions that religion is an experience. They did not believe that any external influence or condition could effect a change of heart. They did not believe 156 The School Of The Prophets that any ceremony or any sacrament or any priestly intercession or any standard of proficiency or any oth- er earthly thing or all earthly things combined would affect the relation between a sinner and his Maker. They believed that every man in this world is personal- ly responsible to God for himself and that he stands alone before God with no plea to make and no price to bring except alone the finished work of Jesus Christ. Actuated by these deep and burning convictions these men literally threw themselves, into the conflict between lifeless, soulless ceremonialism and Christ the power of God unto salvation to every one that believ- eth. They insisted upon the necessity of repentance for sin. Repentance involved a godly sorrow for sin and a mighty turning away from sin. And let it not be forgotten that even this could not be accomplished apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit. About twenty-five or thirty years ago there was in- troduced into this country, I mean the Southland, a form of evangelism which, while it professed to be genuine, nevertheless worked such an amount of evil that nothing this side the Judgment Bar will ever determine just how far reaching it was, and still is, in its effect upon spiritual Christianity. The evangelist thus introducing the new method of procedure usually came well advertised as well as well recommended. He had been the instrument of great revival awakening in OTHER sections and this was written in large letters. His photograph was placed in conspicuous places and circulars were scat- tered everywhere, praising the man and his work. He immediately, upon his arrival, assumed full control, The School Of The Prophets 157 assumed that the pastors of the churches were brain- less specimens of bacteria who must either confine their activities to an effort to exalt and glorify the evangelist or shut up and get out. He first formed an organization of workers before the real "campaign" began. The members, of this or- ganization were selected with reference to their "effi- ciency" and business ability, more particularly their ability as money gatherers. Now all this may have been good and proper, but when the "campaign" had lasted for a week and the sleeping sinners had failed to respond, things began to look serious for the evangelist. He must also go from this place to new fields and must have something to place on his placards in the next town. He must do something to secure converts. There was something done! The evangelist resorted to all sorts of cheap tricks and maneuvers. It has been said that some of these "efficiency experts" needed only to know a sin- ner's address to add him to his list of converts. All serious minded Christians mourn today because this method of evangelism resulted in filling many churches with unconverted members. This method is still in operation in a number of places, but it is losing ground. There may be a question as to whether a super- ficial profession of religion extorted by shrewd mani- pulation, is less or more detrimental to spiritual Chris- tianity than a purely ceremonial induction into the church where no pretense of a change of heart is made. The fact is that, in so far as the final results are concerned, they are of the same value. 158 The School Of The Prophets While L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole were too courteous and too wise to wage open war on either method by an open attack upon their proponents, they did that which was far better. They laid a double emphasis upon the necessity of repentance and the doctrine of regeneration and with all the zeal of the true prophet and with all the power they could com- mand, they exalted the crucified Christ as the sinner's Savior. And while they thundered warnings against the emptiness, of catechismal induction into the church and cried aloud against the dread delusion of make- believe conversion, they consistently refrained from practicing the one or encouraging the other. We shall never know in this world what the preach- ing of these men has meant in maintaining spiritual Christianity as opposed to catechumenical religion in the large rural sections covered by their ministry. But I am pursuaded that, to them and a few others like them, more than to any other human agency, is due the fact that, for many years, that territory was known far and wide as the most thoroughly evange- lized and the most intensely spiritual portion of the South. This is true, not only because of the large part these men had in shaping religious thought and prac- tice among the masses who always, heard them gladly, but because scores of young preachers, many of them converted under their ministry, were trained by them in the doctrines of the Bible and were inspired by their example to cast their lot on the side of spiritual Christianity. And these went into widely scattered fields, to preach in the spirit and power of their spiri- The School Of The Prophets 159 tual fathers, the glad tidings of salvation through Christ. Many evils which effect peoples and nations could be avoided or defeated were it not for the "enemy within our gates". If there is a real danger that world- liness within the church may destroy the spiritual life entirely from the religion of our day, that danger is increased in proportion to the waning of "old time religion" — spiritual Christianity, and the giving way to forms and ceremonialism. A regenerated church membership is the surest guarantee against the growth of worldliness. If preachers are uneasy about the fu- ture of the church and about the lowering of moral standards, among professing Christians let them go back to the New Testament method of evangelism. / must needs go home by the way of the cross There's no other way but this; I shall ne'er get sight of the gates of light If the way of the cross I miss. I must needs go on in the blood-sprinkled ivay, The path that the Savior trod; If I ever climb to the heights sublime Where the soul is at home with God. Then I bid farewell to the way of the world, To walk in it never more; For my Lord says "Come" and I seek my home Where he waits at the open door. 160 The School Of The Prophets XVI THE GREAT MEETING JUST AHEAD The words above are quoted from a letter writ- ten by Uncle Jay Gwaltney and published in a local paper seven years before his death. It was addressed to his brethren and is given in full in another chapter of this book. Since then many of those whom he ad- dressed in the letter have gone on to the great celestial assembly grounds. I was greatly surprised when, not long ago, I counted the names of the Baptist preachers with whom I had labored since entering the ministry to find that no less than twenty-two of them have "folded their tents like the Arab" and stolen silently out through the night. As I turn back the shadow on the dial of Ahaz for a period of thirty years I look in on the old Briar Creek Association in its assembly. I see down around the front of the church some familiar faces: Smith Goforth, W. A. Myers, Newt Gwyn, Thomas Jennings, Israel Hollow, Robert Garner, T. E. Redmon, John Weatherman and others. I visit the Alexander As- sociation and see more familiar figures, L. P. Gwalt- ney, J. P. Gwaltney, D. W. Poole, J. W. Watts, W. J. Bumgarner, Hix Hendren, George Bumgarner and a few others. The shadow on the dial moves, forward again to 1936. Not one of those attending the Briar Creek is alive today and not one attending the Alexander As- sociation is preaching the gospel now and only one of them is alive. The remnant of the Old Guard will follow on. The world about us is too busy to remem- The School Of The Prophets 161 ber — or care. Another generation or two and it will hardly be remembered that they ever lived. But there is a great meeting just ahead. For the "ransomed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads ; they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away". Heaven is a place, "I go to prepare a place for you". It is a prepared place for a prepared people. Heaven is a place where all the inhabitants will ascribe saving power to God alone. There will be no boasting of good works in heaven. There will be no class distinction in heaven. Money will not procure a place in the society of heaven for a libertine. Politics will not set aside the verdict of the Judge who presides in its courts. Arbitrary assumption of ecclesiastic authority, along with degrees attached thereto, will be laid out on the trash pile outside the gate of heaven. There will be no hypocrisy in heaven — nor hypo- crite. There will be no sickness, sorrow or death in hea- ven, for there will be no sin there. There will be no darkness in heaven for "There shall be no night there". There will be shouting in heaven and it will be like the sound of many waters. There will be praising in heaven. "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude and as the voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thun- 162 The School Of The Prophets derings, Allelulia ! for the Lord God omnipotent reign- eth !" There will be singing in heaven. "And they sang as it were a new song". Saints and angels will join in the loud hosannas to Him who sitteth upon the throne while the melodious music from the harps of gold will harmonize with the "song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the lamb", till the flood of song shall swell to the sublimest heights of the glory world. There will be recognition in Heaven. "Then shall I know, even as also I am known". "Many shall come from the east and from the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of hea- ven". There will be a great reversal of human appraisal in heaven. "The last shall be first and the first, last." There is an obvious reason for that. God looks at the heart, we look at externals only. God knows the mo- tives of men, we do not. God will judge men accord- ing to what they are, we judge them according to what they seem to be. It may be that many who live here in obscurity, shunned by the elite and scorned by the self-righteous, shall have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb and shall shine as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars for- ever and ever. In heaven the world's standards of human worth will have been ground to fine powder and cast upon the dark waters of the River Error that flows onward and downward to the Land of Oblivion. For if these standards were retained, heaven would be no longer heaven, but hell. The brutal despot who had drenched the earth in blood of his own kindred to enhance his The School Of The Prophets 163 own glory would be acclaimed a mighty prince. The rich man who had filled his coffers at the price of the cries and tears of widows and orphans would be courted by a fawning multitude. All the hideous frauds and veneered sham, all the sickly, silly jargon of a distor- ted and distracted conception of music, art and en- tertainment; all the raw crudeness of money-bought statesmanship, all the indolence of affluence and the bigotry of rank and the intolerance of class, would pol- lute the atmosphere of heaven, tarnish its golden streets and destroy the harmony of its music. Para- dise would become the possession of Pluto and the Christ of heaven would be dragged from his throne. But in heaven "The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble". "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, saith the Lord." Not the rich man in his palace, but the beggar who lay at his gate ; not Nero, but the slaves whom he cast to his lions ; not the broad phylacteries of self righteousness, but the "God be merciful to me, a sin- ner", of the Publican ; not the wagging heads of de- rision, but the repenting thief on the cross ; not the slave driver, but the slave, not the gift of abundance, but the two mites of penury will receive the applause of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. "But thanks be unto God who giveth us the vic- tory through our Lord Jesus Chris-t" there is a "great meeting just ahead". There is a happy land far, far aivay, Where saints in glory stand, fairer than day. There ten thousand times, ten thousand and thou- sands of thousands will gather. There once again we 164 The School Of The Prophets shall clasp hands with those we loved in the long ago. There the poor will be rich and the slave will be free, the dumb will sing and the blind will see, the deaf ear will be unstopped and the lame man will leap as the hart. But above all and best of all, we shall cast our crowns at the feet of the king in his beauty who was dead and is alive for evermore, shouting "worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing". And the meeting will never adjourn. Then shall we sing as we have never sung before, "What wondrous love is this, my soul, my soul !" No setting sun, no fading ray In that fair land of perfect day; No falling leaf, no drooping flower, No clouded sky, no parting hour. No sobbing heart, no weary sigh, No sorrow there, no tearful eye; In that bright home joy reigns supreme, Each breath a song and love the theme. No taint of sin, no sad farewell; There with the Lord his ransomed dwell. Dear Savior, bring us safely there To see thy face thy beauty wear.